One of the ladies who lodges in the house
Is a light sleeper,
So I have learned to move about it
I know every stair that creaks,
and floorboard,
and it occurred to me:
It would be very easy for me to hunt people in this house.
If I wanted to.
Some wet Wednesday afternoon
I could loose some unsuspecting people -
Like a giant hideandseek -
and seek them out with a cleaver
and chop them into little bits when I find them.
The question then becomes who.
I wouldn’t want to murder the people who live here.
That is unthinkable.
They would have to join in.

Lock all the doors,
the windows,
stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
take the toolbox,
the knives in the kitchen drawer,
and leave the sport to get a head start.
Here we come, ready or not!
with furtive felinefootedness,
clutching our cleavers with gamish glee.

But who do I discover
cowering in a corner,
bleeding all down my shirt,
gurgling and groping
so entertainingly?

I would not hunt a Conservative.
Though they seem most deserving
the symmetry is superficial:
A fox is not like a Conservative.
Sure, the fox has attacked the odd sheep,
but this is normal behaviour for a fox.
The fox does not have moral faculty
and, crucially, is not supposed to.

The Pope may be morally sound,
he may not.
Impossible to say with Popes.
And he would be hard to capture.

Anyone of any note
is overambitious,
and of neither youth nor maiden
can it be ascertained
the weight of their heart in heaven.

A human child, then.
Very young but preferably quite zippy.
A toddler extremely good at toddling, perhaps,
or in a small zorb
that one can dramatically hack
with the cleaver
for that touch of jenesaisquoi.

There would be outrage, yes.
People would not accept the killing
of a human child for sport.
They would think it grotesque,
or that we had taken leave of our senses
or are monstrous psychopaths.

Even if we wore red jackets
and blew bugles, and beagles
attended our stalking,
on one key matter people will insist:
The traditional prey is foxes.

Foxes are, I admit,
What, then, if the human child were not merely inconvenient
but a traumatic memoire
whose every breath kept a hideous past alive?
What if the human child
were a product of rape?
No-one would miss this child;
it’s not a pet fox.

Yet still I expect people will return to their only point:
The traditional prey is foxes.
And against that kind of bloody-mindedness
you just can’t win.

As a parenthetical note, I originally wrote this poem about hunting a dog but I thought people wouldn’t stand for it.

By Robert Hainault