Mr. Whiskers and the Picnic Basket

by Marcus Slease

Mr. Whiskers stole our picnic basket. We had just finished
a romantic movie and drove to the woods
for fancy cheese. We spotted a perfect clearing,
lush grass hidden by old trees. My girl hiked
up her skirt and we plotted our future. From here
to eternity. That’s when Mr. Whiskers snagged the basket.

We ate pine nuts from my pocket and scoured
the woods. Small footprints littered the dirt.
It was a hard search with menacing clouds.
So we packed it in, returned home.

And there, by god, was Mr. Whiskers
curled up on our new couch.
The picnic basket half gnawed.
Cheese crumbles wedged between nose and mouth.
Slogging back our wine, ashing his cigar
on the coffee table, chuckling.

My girl spoke about proper actions.
For her, it was simple.
Punishment as extension
of the human predicament.

All the worst returned to my mind:
the half-blind bully who tripped me
every time I was near a girl I liked,
the UVF uncle who bounced me
on his knee and whispered my future
as he ran my hand through his beard.

We dunked Mr. Whiskers’ head
in the toilet bowl, stuck pins
under his toenails, pierced
his ears with a Black and Decker drill.

Eventually we stuffed him into twelve layers
of trash bags, dragged him
to the basement, and buried him
under the floor in a steel box.

And we returned to the woods and began
a new picnic. No cheese. No fancy wine.
Just a boy and his girl sitting in silence,
eating apples from a broken basket.

Marcus Slease was born and raised in Portadown, N. Ireland. Currently, he teaches Existentialism to freshmen at UNC Greensboro. Recent poetry has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Conduit, Columbia Poetry Review, Diagram, Gut Cult, Typo, Milk, Shampoo, Spork, and Octopus.