The Koala Tea of Mercy

First Koala

First Koala (And Really Only One I’ve Ever Drawn!)

The Koala Tea of Mercy

The koala tea of Mercy is not strained,
(for though they sport two thumbs upon their paws,
sieves don’t suit those marsupials.)

It droppeth as the gentle rain,
(that rarely falls on Sidney’s convents
or Brisbane’s–for there, what’s heaven-sent

often hails upon the place beneath–
scaring the koalas to the top
of their eucalyptus, which doesn’t stop

the mightiest of the mightiest–
that is, a South Pacific deluge–
but the brain of a koala is not huge,

their thrones perhaps as complex as their crowns.)
At least, the tea’s a salvation
despite its slightly twigged sensation.

No, the koala tea of Mercy is not strained;
yet twice-blesses those who drink its brew:
her who takes, who gives–that me, that you–


This poem is based upon a joke made by my husband, Jason Martin, a few years ago–a long shaggy dog story that had to do with the Sisters of Mercy, Australia, who (in the joke) supervised the making of koala tea, which, was not strained (due to the inherent disconnect between koalas and tea.)  Honestly, it was a very funny joke, although, at the time, I could only focus on the fact that Australia isn’t a famous tea producer.   Process note–koalas do have two opposable digits on each front paw, and I believe three others, and extremely small brains for their size.  The Sisters of Mercy have convents in Sydney, Brisbane and Papua New Guinea. 

I wrote this for Margaret Bednar’s “Play it Again” prompt on With Real Toads, referring to an archived prompt by Kerry O’Connor to write a Constanza, which is a form SUPPOSED to have just five stanzas, the first lines of which form their own poem.  (The first lines are also supposed to rhyme.)  Too much for me.  (Process note–I still have the flu!  Forgive any delirium!)

Here is the original Shakespeare, Portia’s wonderful speech extolling the virtues of mercy in The Merchant of Venice:

The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.

The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I. 


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16 Comments on “The Koala Tea of Mercy”

  1. Mama Zen Says:

    This is absolutely hilarious, K! Hope you feel better soon!

  2. I think Koala’s are just that.. and I think a koala tea would be a true mercy. This one was sweet, and i think you should continue to draw koalas

  3. Grace Says:

    That tea is a salvation, twice-blesses ~ Nice koala drawing K ~

  4. I love where your inspiration came from, K!! Both the joke and the poem…excellent work on the form, too! I enjoyed…especially the closing about being twice blessed…caused me to think of a very hearty organic chai tea that was being offered at our local health food store…my cup had an entire fennel seed…I joked that it wanted to go on the journey with me! 😉

  5. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    This is such an entertaining poem, k. I love how you used Portia’s speech as a starting point, with the play on the word strained throughout. Humorous and crafty!

  6. Sumana Roy Says:

    Such enjoyable lines with play on words..koala tea indeed….

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    I love the koala(tealess) you drew, and the title had me laughing even without knowing the joke. Amazing to come up with this while ill–it’s a very sing-song form in tetrameter, and you dd a nice job of avoiding that, as well as evoking a rather unique mash-up of images. I hope so much that you will soon be well.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I was finally really able to sleep last night, so feeling much better. The koala drawing is actually an old one, done during a legal education seminar (one of my best places for drawing!) But I may start working on them as they are so cute. I was reading about them yesterday–they are quite strange creatures physically–especially with regards to sexual organs–but undoubtedly won’t draw those bits! Thanks, again. k.

      On Sun, Mar 22, 2015 at 8:09 AM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • hedgewitch Says:

        Marsupial creatures are in general all quite fascinating and strange. The opposable thumbs and small brain are an odd combination,and glad to know you will not be attempting soft-kore-ala porn in your drawings. *runs* Glad you are feeling a tad bit better.

  8. Susan Says:

    unstrained tea–“a salvation
    despite its slightly twigged sensation” Hahahah …
    I started laughing right at the start. Brilliant use of the Quality of Mercy speech from a comedy that won’t let us laugh. Here, laughter reigns. And your diction to fill meter, your playful treatment of the koala–all wonderful. Thank you!

  9. Sherry Marr Says:

    This is very clever, imaginative, humorous and thoroughly enjoyable to read. Smiles. Loved it.

  10. ZQ Says:

    A delightful reading. Thanks…

  11. Brendan Says:

    There’s a delirious logic to this apropos to the flu, the hodge of images podged together; I strained, like a tea, to take in it after a couple of readings but had a good time anyway. It made a lot more sense after reading the soliloquy from “Merchant of Venice.” I’d lose the word “such” at then end of the first stanza, the rhythmic expectation might be more squarely set. Hope you feel better soon!

  12. Marian Says:

    Oh haha, what a fun romp this is… though your last line is stellar and has a pretty big import. Hope you are feeling better!

  13. This is deliriously fun. I love it.

  14. M Says:

    While I for some reason am undone by form these days, your adaptive turn sings. Unstrained tea… now *that’s* a pun… ~

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