By Rhys Hughes
THE IMAGINARY MENAGERIE 1. A banshee on a rooftop can wail all night when the mists swirl thickly. A whale on a rooftop ought to get down quickly. 2. A cockatrice is not very nice, in fact some say it's a curse when it struts around in the nude. But when it is wearing socks I'll say it's even worse. 3. Medusa and a French writer: as opposites they are polar. They are pleased to dine on cheese but only Gorgon Zola. 4. Part man, part horse, the centaur trots around the race course shooting arrows at the hats worn by all the toffs in the crowd who watch but with insufficient force to knock them off. 5. The vampire with sore gums bites only sorghum but he likes to reminisce about the throats and biscuits of priests in the seminary. Fangs for the memory! 6. The simurgh is a beautiful bird rarely kept as a pet because few people can afford her. Among our feathered friends she ranks highest in the pecking order. 7. What has been written about the minotaur is true enough from feet to neck but don't believe the text in full: the remainder is a lot of bull. 8. There is a squonk who weeps all night on the roof of my tropical bathroom. The tears that drip through bamboo shoots are always gloomy, fat and sour but in them I prefer to shower. 9. The hydra is a kind of snake with many heads who for the sake of better relations with all the nations of humanity decided to get an education and began with trigonometry. Now he's a mythical snake with many headaches. 10. A phoenix has no politics but knows a trick or two. Perched in a bowl of cake mix and bursting into flames it may bake that cake for you. 11. A Cyclops with a telescope can stare at distant pears, the planet Mars as well, but a cyclops with binoculars has no hope in hell. 12. A hippogriff on the edge of a cliff can safely leap into the void and soar but a hippopotamus or hypocrite would splatter on the canyon floor. 13. The wealth of an elf and the security of an Elf in our world's fairyland sector are important considerations for an 'Elf & Safety' inspector. 14. There's a manticore behind a door inside the betting shop but that door is a jar and the stopper in the top prevents it getting out. 15. Although his wings are extended the dragon wears trousers recently mended for courtesy's sake because the damsel in distress turned out to be a knight in a dress with an awkward curtsy. Yes, the Dragon wears trousers but he's flying low. 16. The leprechaun has worn out his shoes and torn his green cap and sits on the lawn, bottles of booze in his lap, until the break of dawn. 17. The satyr is a goat man who chases river nymphs in a boat with leers: his plan is to catch them in a net but he hasn't got any yet. He is wet behind the ears. 18. A Wyvern is a kind of dragon with only two legs: the front ones and both of those are frail. That's why his tail tends to drag on the ground while he is toing and froing and running around to see what fun things we are doing. 19. The Titan wants to bite on the biggest sandwich in creation but no doubt his mastication will meet negation when all the filling falls out. 20. The happy harpy plays the flute too loudly or so the other Harpies claim. The unhappy Harpy plays a lute too sadly to attain musical fame. Later they will beat their wings against the ceiling to express their mutual feeling: distrust, dislike and irritation. 21. Triffids are insipid when added to salad but they are always in a hurry to jump into curry. Who can say why? Not I. 22. I knew a ghoul who was nobody's fool. He enrolled in a university adjacent to a cemetery. Corpus Christi College extended his knowledge that corpses are tasty. 23. There's a yeti in the freezer and we don't know how he got there. Extracting him with tweezers seems petty and unfair, so we won't dislodge him from his lair of artificial snow but leave him unmolested next to the polar bear. 24. Always a risk to kiss a basilisk especially if you miss and kiss the wrong end. 25. The mermaid paid with alacrity her parking fine. She had tethered her seahorse to our ship's anchor. I must descend in a diving suit to personally thank her. 26. With ten long arms he can do great harm when he takes over the submarine factory by poking big holes in hulls but the workers in Quality Control are more afraid the Kraken boss will simply say, "Sack 'em!" and that's exactly what he does. 27. A unicorn is a horse with a spike that can eat apples and leap a fence. But a graph with a spike is evidence that something isn't right. 28. The gnome at home is worse than a ghost but an absent Gnome is a generous host. How is this possible? 29. If the chimera came here you would surely run away. The lion part would roar at you, the snake part would hiss, and as you beat a hasty retreat the goat part would bleat at your receding feet. 30. The golem is a man of clay but who can say if the potter's wheel made him dizzy? He never eats or even drinks while he is busy unless it's something fizzy.
Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.
PLEASE NOTE: ARTICLES CAN ONLY BE REPRODUCED IN OTHER SITES WITH DUE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT TO BORDERLESS JOURNAL