A Life for Rent:  Vulpine Poetry

In creating my story, I've run into the need for some poetry. Since I'm not a poet, this is kind of a big deal for me.

At the beginning of December I set writing the novel aside to work on a short story for a writing contest. My plan is to take an incident from the novel and spin it into a complete story. The theme of the contest is apples, and apples have found their way into the novel as well. This explains why apples appear in several of these poems. I wrote all these with the idea that I'd pick out one or two to use in the short story and save the rest (if they're usable) for the novel.

My main character is a genetically engineered (or "uplifted") fox. He's the teller of these nursery rhymes and poetry. Thus, these are examples of vulpine (fox) poetry. It helps if you imagine he learned these while sitting on his mother's lap.

Nursery Rhymes

In the novel, my fox interacts with some human children: a six-year-old boy and a newborn. The purpose is to show my character's strong fathering instinct and his desire for kits (babies) of his own. Naturally, he will tell the baby some of these nursery rhymes while holding her.

Mother's Love

Mouse tart,
Apple pie,
A mother's love,
A little kit's sigh.

My very first original nursery rhyme! In the short story, my fox is thinking about family and his childhood—how his family made him feel safe and loved. He recalls this nursery rhyme. The scene, and this nursery rhyme, will probably find their way into the novel.

Bunny Beware!

Father's at the hedgerow,
Bunny don't you peep.
Kit needs a rabbit skin,
To help her fall asleep.

This is the second nursery rhyme I've written. It's interesting that the fox warns the bunny to keep quiet and save his own skin. The idea that inspired me was Baby Bunting:

Bye, bye baby bunting,
Daddy's gone a hunting.
To get a little rabbit skin
To wrap his baby bunting in.

Long ago in human history, hunting was a part of everyday life for nearly everyone. I envision that there will still be enough wildness in my foxes that a century from now, hunting will be a very big part of their lives too.

Daddy Comes Home

You shall have an apple.
You shall have a comb.
You shall have a little mouse.
When daddy comes home.

I'm rather proud of that one. It's the third nursery rhyme I'd written. It also ties nicely into the natural fox family life where the father will bring tidbits to the kits to either eat or play with.

Hush Little Kit

Hush little kit now don't you cry,
Momma's gonna bake you an apple pie.
Daddy gives a little mouse, it goes "squeek,"
Hush little kit now don't you peep.

Hush little kit now don't you cry,
Daddy caught for you a dragonfly.
Momma's gonna rock till you fall 'sleep,
Hush little kit now don't you peep.

This is a song my fox sings to the newborn. I suppose I could add more verses, but I'm not terribly fond of large blocks of poetry in novels so I'll be keeping this short. If I were to add more verses they would go in the middle.

Foolish Squirrels

Three little squirrels playin' in a tree,
Teasin' Mr. Fox, "Can't catch me."
Along comes Mr. Fox, quiet as can be…

Two little squirrels playin' in a tree, etc.

No little squirrels playin' in a tree,
Where's Mr. Fox…?
Having tea… With a honey bee.

This is the nursery rhyme my fox tells the six-year-old, complete with snapping his jaws shut with a loud "Clomp!" at the appropriate time. This gets the little boy to giggling. Obviously this is a direct takeoff on the monkeys and crocodiles nursery rhyme.

Short Poems

Selecting a Mate

The foxes' sponsor wanted to preserve as much of the wild fox traits as possible and only genetically modify the minimum necessary to make these uplifted foxes useful. So certain characteristics and behaviors remain. The most important ones for the story are: they only have one heat-cycle per year (in the wintertime), and the male will wander until he finds a suitable mate.

With a non-existent sex drive nine months out of the year, foxes know a relationship built on sexual combustibility cannot survive. Therefore all fox children are taught this as they grow:

First a shared vision
Blooms into friendship;
Next comes passion,
Then family with kits.

Note the contrast with the human version, which was my inspiration:

First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes baby
In a baby carriage.

The shared vision is when a dog-fox and a vixen share the same interests, goals, and dreams—they have a common ground to build a partnership upon. This, and the time they spend together will lead to friendship. When the bond of shared dreams and friendship combines with hormones come late fall and early winter, passion is ignited. Finally, they form a union and start a family. It's shared vision and friendship that holds the pair together throughout the year.

Because of the importance of the last word of each line, I found this little poem a challenge to write. It doesn't quite rhyme and the meter is off a bit, but the idea is well expressed. This appears in both short story and novel. The idea contained in the poem is the central reason why my poor fox has been a wandering bachelor for so long.

Where'r I Roam

North, south, east, or west
Where'r I roam, home is best.

This is hardly original. It exists in many variations and this is my version. This could find its way into the novel. My fox longs for a home of his own.

I Want a House

I want a house to call my own.
With family and friends to make it home.

This is a variation on a common idea. Again, it expresses my fox's desire for a home of his own.