No Possum, No Aesop, No ’Gators

Pogo, the Fabulist, and Albert walked into a bar.
The possum ordered a pinot noir,
Aesop some ouzo, and Albert a gin and Gatorade fizz.

“I don’t serve talking animals,” said the barkeep.
“They can stay, but they can’t drink.
I only serve high rollers here, not”—
glancing at the reptile—
“rollers of big cigars.”
He poured Aesop’s ouzo.

“You underestimate these two so,” Aesop protested.
“They aren’t just ‘talking animals’—
this possum’s the most quoted, most read
animal in the annals of newspaper lore.
Go ahead, Pogo, tell him.”

The marsupial looked up at the bartender,
paused and through clinched teeth whispered,
“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Albert exhaled his cigar smoke dramatically.
Aesop winked and went on:

“Now, let’s talk about the ecology, bud.
Back when wetlands still were called swamps,
these ‘talking animals’”—
he made quotation marks in the air with his fingers—
“were the first spokescritters.
And how about politics? These guys took on
the Jack Acid Society when John Birch
was just a sapling.
If you can’t give ’em a drink,
at least give ’em some respect.
And anyway, you served me.
If it weren’t for me these guys
wouldn’t exist. I’m the one who started
all those talking animal stories.”

The ’tender leaned across the bar,
appraised the trio from head to foot,
then took back Aesop’s ouzo and pointed
first to the floor, then to the sign by the door:
“No socks, no shoes, no service.”

As they filed out mumbling, “If Kelly were alive…,”
a barefoot beagle went up to the bar
and barked for a root beer.
“Sure thing,” the barkeep replied.
“For you, it’s on the house.
How’s the insurance business these days?
Want some peanuts with that?
Here’s a new jar, fresh from Tennessee.”