archy experiences a seizure

by Don Marquis

(After “The Rhyme of the Three Captains” and other poems)


“Where have you been so long? And what on earth do
you mean in coming in here soused?” we asked Archy
as he zigzagged from the door to the desk.
He climbed onto the typewriter keys and replied

soused yourself i havent had a drink
and yet i am elevated i admit it i have
been down to a second hand book
store eating a lot of kiplings earlier
poetry it always excites me if i eat
a dozen stanzas of it i get all lit up
and i try to imitate it get out of my
way now i feel a poem in the kipling
manner taking me

And before we could stop him he began to but on the

the cockroach stood by the mickle
wood in the flush of the astral dawn

We interrupted. “Don’t you mean Austral instead of

Archy became angered and wrote peevishly:

I wrote astral and i meant astral
you let me be now i want to get this
poem off my chest you are jealous if
you were any kind of sport at all
you would fix this machine so it could
write it in capitals it is a poem about
a fight between a cockroach and a
lot of other things get out of my way
i’m off

the cockroach stood by the mickle
wood in the flush of the astral dawn
and he sniffed the air from the hidden
lair where the khyber swordfish spawn
and the bile and belch of the glutton
welsh as they smelted their warlock cheese
surged to and fro where the grinding
floe wrenched at the headlands knees
half seas over under up again
and the barnacles white in the moon
the pole stars chasing its tail like a pup again
and the dish ran away with the spoon

the waterspout came bellowing out of
the red horizons run
and the grey typhoon and the black
monsoon surged forth to the
fight with him
with three fold might they surged to
the fight for they hated the great
bull roach
and they cried begod as they lashed
the sod and here is an egg to
we will bash his mug with his own raw
lug new stripped from off his
for there is no law but teeth and claw
to the nor nor east of nome
the punjab gull shall have his skull
ere he goes in the burning ghaut
for there is no time for aught but crime
where the jungle lore is taught
across the dark the afghan shark is
whining for his head
there shall be no rule but death and
dule till the deep red mauve are
half seas under up and down
and her keel was blown off in a
girls we misdoubt that we ll ever
see town again
haul boy haul boys haul

“Archy,” we interrupted, “that haul, boys, is all right
in the eye, but the ear will surely make it hall boys.
Better change it.”

you are jealous you let me alone im off again

the cockroach spat and he tilted his
hat and he grinned through the
lowering mirk
the cockroach felt in his rangoon belt
for his good bengali dirk
he reefed his mast against the blast
and he bent his mizzen free
and he pointed the cleats of his bin
nacle sheets at the teeth of the
yesty sea
he opened his mouth and he sluiced
his drouth with his last good
can of swipes
begod he cried they come in pride
but they go home with the
begod he said if they want my head it
is here on top of my chine
it shall never be said that I doffed my
head for the boast of a heathen
and he scorned to wait but he dared
his fate and loosed his bridle rein
and leapt to close with his red fanged
foes in the trough of the
screaming main
from hell to nome the blow went home
and split the firmament
from hell to nome the yellow foam
blew wide to veil the rent
and the roaring ships they came to
grips in the gloom of a dripping mist

“Archy,” we interrupted again, “is there very much
more to it? It seems that you might tell in a very few
words now who won the fight, and let it go at that. Who
did win the fight, Archy?
But Archy was peeved, and went sadly away, after

of course you won’t met me finish i never saw as jealous
a person as you are ….