. Putting Settings in Their Place For dilettantes the world’s bereft When table settings aren’t precise. For if the forks aren’t on the left They’ll give their host some stern advice: “The fork goes here, for love of life, “The salad fork goes right next to it. “And on the right the spoon and knife.” They’ll tell us all just how to do it. “The dinner plate goes here,” they’ll say, “The salad plate goes over there. “And wine goes on the right, okay? “While tea pots can go anywhere.” “The napkin’s folded with the forks, “Our etiquette is next to none!” Like faux-sophisticated dorks They’ll claim that’s how it must be done. But frankly, I don’t give a damn As long as forks are within reach. For “practical,” is what I am, And “common sense” is what I preach. Just serve me food that I can chow With chopsticks, forks, or fingers, too, Just get it in my mouth, somehow, So all I’ve got to do is chew. The table setting? I don’t care What Downton Abbey butlers do. Of etiquette I’m unaware. With chunks of bread I’ll eat my stew. . . The Belling of the Cat Surprise! I found the mice had belled our cat, Which was, of course, an awful thing to do. The cat, humiliated (there is that)— But, worse by far, the bell was mine—and new; A bell I bought to hang around the neck Of Ferdinand, our misanthropic bull, To keep potential trespassers in check From goring by a sharp-horned animal. The bull, I think, would take the bell in stride, But our poor cat, when belled, sank to the floor And couldn’t move at all but only sighed And licked her nose; just that and nothing more. Just how the mice picked up the bell and hung It on the cat remains a mystery, Akin to Stonehenge when I stood among The stones and pondered how they came to be. I’ve long since freed the cat and placed the bell Around the neck of Ferdinand. My guess Is, if the cat could damn the mice to hell Or somewhere worse she’d eagerly say, “Yes.” They say discretion is the greater part Of valor and my cat has since been prone To listen to her head and not her heart, While leaving all those wily mice alone. Old Ferdinand appears to like his bell. But what the mice do next is hard to tell. . . Yard Sale Garden gnomes in front of homes Are cute but would you buy A house with one on its front lawn? I would and here is why: Decent price, a house that’s nice; To buy it, I’d cry, “Bingo!” I’d keep the place but then replace Each gnome with a flamingo. . . James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, Dwell Time, Light, Deronda Review, The Road Not Taken, Fevers of the Mind, Sparks of Calliope, Dancing Poetry, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse. He was honored with being chosen as the winner of the 2021 SCP International Poetry Competition.