Neoteny

Alas, I have been unable to uncover the artist of this painting

Neoteny

Axolotls, axolotls,
Uncorked from the strangest bottles –
Ask a little, ask a lottl,
I’ll explain it in a jottl.
Giant tadpoles, stubbly legs,
Who, not adult, can still lay eggs,
And having reproduced, each pup
Shall cease all thought of growing up.
Their smiley mouths and baby faces
Compensate for stymied stasis,
(Never coming out as planned,
And never walking on the land) –
They’re salamanders who meander
Never wanting to be grander.
While most life is lived full-throttle,
Time stands still for the axolotl –
For whether it is dumb or clever,
They make childhood last forever
They quite refuse to lose their frills
And put away their childish gills,
They keep a fin upon their back
And regrow any parts they lack –
They do not blink at staying kids
(Because they don’t develop lids).
Yet with a shot of iodine
They can achieve their tiger’d sheen,
They can equip with tooth and lung –
Yet living fast means dying young,
While staying in their pond long-term
Shall bring the everlasting worm.
So golden, pink, or brown-with-mottles,
Here’s to ageless axolotls !

This poem is my attempt to write a bit like Ogden Nash.

Love Birds

Love Birds

February, when the end of Winter
Greets the start of the start of Spring –
And what better time for the ravens to be mating,
For these early birds to be doing their thing ?
Valentine ravens, tender and dear –
They’re mating-for-life for year after year.

Coming out of the edges of the wilderness,
From the Northern moors to the middle-class downs –
Now nobody persecutes their loving anymore,
So they do it in the open and they do it in the towns.
Valentine ravens, cawing their love –
A far better symbol than a bear-cub or a dove.

Immigrants

Canada Goose 7¢ Stamp by Emanuel Hahn

Immigrants

Big and brash and loud – so loud !
All whooping, splashing, strutting proud,
And never just the one – but with a crowd !
Filling cities, wrecking peace –
Beware, my goslings, Canada-bred geese !

And yet, they’re clearly here to stay
Through wet and winter, come what may,
When many native birds have flown away.
They’re down to earth and on the rise,
Their flying-Vs patrolling cloudy skies.

The parents grub and labour much
While taking turns to mind their clutch,
And grazing grass that locals will not touch.
Gregarious by flock and gaggle,
Proudly waddling with their native waggle.

They are our future, anyhow –
Americans, yet British now,
As British as a plum or Friesian cow.
Though black and brown of feather, true,
Their spirit sports the red, the white, and blue.

Catalyst

Morphogénèse 3 by Marina Dieul

Catalyst

Cats crop up in poetry
Like they do in neighbours’ kitchens,
But when it’s time for serious,
They’re nowhere near to pitch in.
They haven’t time for heavy metaphor
Or mopey musing –
And earnest stream-of-consciousness
Will send them straight to snoozing.
But crack a smile and shake some wit,
Or balladeer some derring-do,
And lapping up the limericks,
Here comes the kitty-crew:
Pepperpot and Sootikin,
The tyger tyger in the hat,
Macavity and Pangur Ban,
The owl-loving pussycat,
In nurseries and nightclubs,
In the scary and absurd,
We’re sure to stumble over them
Wherever words are purred.

Toxic

Toxic

Poison and venom – the diff’rence between them
Is pedantry.
Biologists may take exception,
But only they should.
Most of the rest of us navigate life
Quite pleasantly
With a definition that’s still close-enough
To be good.

Carol of the Robins

Carol of the Robins

They’re here all year are the robins,
The robins on their rounds,
Delivering their song.
But we barely see all the robins,
Barely hear their sounds
When they’re lost in the throng.
But come the Winter and come the cold,
And go the fairweather flocks –
But the robins are patient, the robins are bold,
As bright as the frost and as red as the fox.
With a whistle they come,
And they sing out the season
And snow cannot stop them from spreading their cheer.
They sing to each other,
They sing for no reason,
But we only hear them at this time of year.

They’re here all year are the robins,
The robins on their rounds,
Delivering their post.
We little think of the robins
Braving rain and hounds,
Till we need them the most –
Then comes the Winter and comes the cold
And on go the jumpers and socks,
And we need them to bring us the red and the gold
On the cards and the parcels they push through our box.
With a whistle they come,
And they bring us the season,
And snow cannot stop them from winging it here.
They come when it’s sunny,
They come when it’s freezing,
But we only see them at this time of year.

As I’ve discussed in another poem, robins are territorial and violent birds. However, they’re also a great source of pleasure to humans. So much so that Victorian postmen with their red waistcoats were nicknamed robin redbreasts and soon Christmas cards were featuring them in both human and allegorical avian form.

And when I suggest that the robins ‘sing for no reason’, I am aware fully aware of the many uses that their song serves, but there is increasing evidence that occassionally birds really might just sing for the fun of it.

Chrissie Cards

Chrissie Cards

Koala bears in woolly hats,
Emus strutting in the snow
Spruces march across the Outback –
Let it go, Oz, let it go…
I know you’re mostly immigrants
From colder, Northern climes,
But not all cult’ral heritage
Will work in modern times.
Ditch the chimney for a combi,
Lose the furry robes and gloves,
Let the gum replace the holly,
Let the budgies play the doves.
Embrace your new contrariness,
Your world turned upside down –
This Winter masquerade is not
The only game in town.
Santa chilling by the barbie,
Kangaroos to haul the sleigh,
Redback’s guarding Baby Jesus –
Season’s greetings, and g’day.

Cold Fish

Baby Sharks in their Eggs by Jinterwas

Cold Fish

Fish are r-selectors,
They spew their eggs upon the deep.
On the current, on the hope
That a few of them will seep their way to adulthood,
Playing the odds and making good.

A few, though, are protectors –
Mouth-brooders, seahorses,
Their eggs in an extra envelope.
But once they’re born, of course, they’re on their own –
Even in a shoal, they swim alone.

But sharks are k-selectors,
Giving birth to one or two –
Yet then they leave their pups to cope.
So fish are absent parents, true, but don’t condemn –
I guess the numbers show it works for them.

Hide

The Watcher – Tribute to Edward Hopper by David Wickline

Hide

Shhh…let’s lie low here for a while
And let our camouflage do its thing –
Let’s watch the daily rank-and-file
As it passes by on the wing.
Birds or people, far or near,
They flock till they part their ways.
If we keep still, we’ll dissapear
As they chase their busy days.
It’s good to sometimes sit and think
With a patient air and a weather eye –
Let’s slow our breaths and barely blink,
And watch the world go by.

Armour

Altar of Mars by Bruno Vepkhvadze

Armour

Beetles, tortoises, and nuts,
Pearls in shells and wasps in galls,
Hermit crabs in disused huts,
Rolled-up armadillo balls,
Frogs in mud and chicks in eggs,
Goods in crates and crates in hulls,
Drinks in bottles, bones in legs,
Feet in shoes and brains in skulls.