07/24/2013 07:52 am ET Updated Sep 23, 2013

Featured Fifty Poetry: Herbal Tea


Murray Shelmerdine was born in Newport-upon-Tay in the Kingdom of Fife. He has worked as a ferryman, labourer, driver, teacher, computer programmer, actor, theatre director, journalist and drama critic. A number of his poems and short stories have been published. His plays have been produced in London, Edinburgh, Brussels and New Orleans; one was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. He has been the prime mover in an environmental project in a small remnant of ancient woodland in North London since 1998. He can be seen there at weekends leading groups of small children through the trees in search of treasure or battling to save the planet.

I run a cafe in the woods in London, England. This poem was inspired by one of our more eccentric customers.

Herbal Tea

A lady came into the café one day at dusk

And said: "I'll have a herbal tea,

Preferably fennel.

Earl Grey gives me lurid dreams,

Green tea makes me psychic,

And Lapsang-Souchong produces an effect

It would be difficult to describe."

We had no fennel tea,

So I made her a very weak PG Tips.

After one sip she turned into

A large and rather handsome moth,

And fluttered out into the evening

Looking for a candle flame.

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