Where Be Dragons ?

dragon fossil
Drakeling Fossil Sculpture by Nightlyre


Where Be Dragons ?

Six limbs ?  Not an impossibility,
But why grow the lower four quite so stout ?
In flight, they’re only dead weight of little good utility,
And back on land, they’re never used for galloping about.
For all the traveller’s tales told,
It’s physics leaves the dragon cold.

It is a shame, but that is that –
Don’t curse the laws that bring us light.
There’s swarms of creatures to adore
Far more than sphinx or manticore.
The greatest wonder of the bat
Is how they find their way at night.
Don’t hope for dragons, save your wish
To glimpse upon a dragonfish.

Six tons ?  Not as heavy as some aircraft,
But far too heavy without massive thrust –
Birds can only fly because they’re lighter than the updraft,
And when they’re not (like ostriches) they’re left down in the dust.
For all the picture books we read,
It’s physics kills the dragon dead.

It is a shame, but so it goes –
Don’t wish for trolls or unicorns.
There’s hordes of creatures just as nice
As any roc or cockatrice.
The greatest beauty of the rose
Is knowing why it grows its thorns.
Don’t weep for dragons, they’re just lies –
Instead, let’s sing of dragonflies.



Swarm Over Hamelin

from The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Dominika Lipniewska


Swarm Over Hamelin

Thank you, sir, thank you sir, thank you a thousandfold !
How we were plagued upon, how we were festered !
Rodentine pestilence, vicious and far-too-bold,
Raided, invaded – our stores all sequestered.
For we had already lost every vat we had,
Every scrap we had, every foison.
And we had already tried every cat we had,
Every trap we had, every poison.
Not just the teeth or the claws was our worrying,
Not just the tapeworms or ticks from the ditches –
No, not just the nibbling and soiling and scurrying –
But oh !, it’s the fleas !  It’s the fleas and the itches !
Nobody worked, and nobody traded,
The strongest ones fled, and illness cascaded.
We would have offered you anything, made you the Pope !
Ev’ryone feared at the spectre amongst us,
And ev’ryone feared for the health of the youngsters;
Look to our children – their future became our last hope.

Thank you, sir, thank you sir, you have deliverèd !
Thank you for ridding our cellars of nestings !
Leading your river of rats to the riverbed,
Besting the beasties of pantry molestings.
Now is our artisans’ industry recommensed,
Thanks to the man in the bright-coloured suiting.
Talent like you displayed must be well-recompensed,
Must be rewarded to honour your fluting.
How much I wish we could honour our promises,
Honour the price we agreed in our anguish –
But all of our shelves are so empty and ominous,
All of our prospects still fester and languish.
Nobody’s rich, and ev’ryone’s starving –
So let us rebuild, before you come carving
Your portions of nothing to meet your retainer agreed.
Give us some time, for trade to be mettled;
Pray, give us some time, and all will be settled.
Look to our children, and teach them to follow your lead.



Felis schroedingi

cat in box


Felis schroedingi

I burrow through the wicker bin
Beside your desk, a-froth therein
With pencil shavings, strüdel crumbs,
And paper balls of failed sums.
I’m rubbing up against your socks,
Or sharp’ning claws against your box,
Or lis’ning to your strange device
That clicks and squeaks like frightened mice.

But I don’t like the vial with the strong, sharp smell
And why have you a hammer, and a pivot-rig as well ?
You’re planning for some trial – uncertain times ahead –
Wearing is this clamour, and I’m feeling quite half-dead.

I mean, just what is life , anyway ?
I mean, crystals grow and all, don’t they ?
And viruses, they can even multiply,
And sperm can even swim, and twisters fly
And thinking machines – how do they fit in ?
And when does life end, and when does it begin ?

But you ain’t thinking ’bout any of this, are you ?
You’re thinking I have it and lost it, and both are still true
Not in any biological sense,
But only in a philosophic pretence.
Well, get over yourselves, it’s all down to chance:
My existence does not revolve around your ignorance.

I am not quantum.
There are not two of me.
I have not become
An equation or postulation or theory,
Some waveform waiting to collapse,
A merely-possible-perhaps,
Or psi-functional mixture of states
In decoherence to my many-worlds’ fates.

No, I am simply a cat,
Possibly dead, or otherwise alive,
And it really doesn’t matter how I come to arrive
In my present condition (thoroughly discretely –
Cos I’m one or the other, and that one completely),
For no thought-experimenting’s gonna alter that.



The Benthonaut

Octopus by Nat Raum


The Benthonaut

Three-hearted, blue-blooded, copper in your veins,
Spending all your days just lounging on the reef,
Merging with the furniture, watching for the gains:
You pouncing, morphing, jetting, dancing, slinking, oozing thief,
You hunger-striking annual, blooming all too brief.
Bursting into action, but your stamina devoid,
You tremor-detecting, ink-ejecting, R-selecting chromataphoid.

With arms you cannot quite control in each particular,
Foraging and tasting with an independent mind.
Spirit-level eyes that will maintain their perpendicular,
With optic nerves all plugged-in from behind.
All of this intelligence, all of this complexity,
All this curiosity, all this raw dexterity;
And yet no society – such a lonely vexity you are;
And living far too short for such an eight-pointed superstar.



Corvus niger

selective focus photograph of black crow
Photo by Tom Swinnen on Pexels.com


Corvus niger

Why do ravens always wear black ?
Do they want to blend in with the pack ?
Are they just too shy to be pizzazz ?
Are they just too moody, cool and jazz ?
Why are they dressed in Sunday Best, not tweeds ?
Are they decked in mourning, veiled in widow’s weeds ?
Or are they maybe prison warders ?
Are they priests in holy orders ?
Are they fed’ral agents on the wing ?
Or do they merely want to go with ev’rything ?
Are they goths and metalheads – or maybe simply posh ?
Or are their other feathers in the wash ?
So why is it ravens always wear the black ?
(But if they dressed in mufty, I guess they’d get the sack.)



Adders & Ladders

snake & ladder
Snake and Ladder by Cedric Sam


Adders & Ladders

Vivaporous vipers give me the vapours,
But I shall envelop these slitted-eyed scrapers.
Rapture enripens their serpentine stare:
J’adore l’addeurVive la vipère !

I’ll stick to the cutest constrictors for starters,
I’ll start with the threadsnakes, move upto the garters,
I’ll scale up the ladderbacks, slide down the smooths –
I’ll dice with their snake-eyes, I’ll slalom their grooves.

Vivaporous vipers are venomous vermin,
Yet I shall unfasten and welcome the worm in.
I’ll love ev’ry squeezer and cherish each fanger –
Ich liebe die Kreuzotter !  Heil die Schlange !



If Only We’d Known About Velociraptor, Too !

Velociraptor mongoliensis by Fred Wierum

If Only We’d Known About Velociraptor, Too !

My nephew is into his dinosaurs,
And he’s digging up mem’ries lain buried since school,
(But still neatly sorted in synaptic drawers),
With all of those crazy-long names by their scores,
Though actu’ly some of them sounded so cool !
The textbooks would show how to say it, not sweat it,
By spelling phonetic’ly, so’s we could get it.
But sometime’s a wrong ’un would lodge in all twisty –
And once it gets in there, it’s part of our hist’ry.

For instance, how much we all loved diplodocus,
And gave that third syllable all of our focus.
So never diplodocus, that sounded odd-i-cus.
And don’t get me started on cow-pat-a-saurus –
Your patsy falls flat, see – just hear how we chorus
This heavyweight’s name is – by god – brontosaurus !
As known in the bones of all schoolyards before us.
So pronto, restore us our sauropod’s nommus –
Don’t think you can plunder our thunderbeast from us !

Which brings us around to the puh-terodactyls –
To eight-year old boys they were neater than fractals !
Doubt they could flap much, but bet they soared high –
Though not dinosauruses…saur-iss-eez…saur-eye..?
Trexies and steggers and plessies abounded –
Though from diff’rent eras, so not all together –
Non-chronolog’onous, just to be clever.
We’d all have our favourites up for discussion
Like Dimetrodon, cos he sounded so Russian,
Or archaeopt’ryx, with the bestest name ever.

And then there were the trillobites !
That’s how we called ’em in our local playground.
That’s how we called ’em, so that’s how they were –
And given a choice, then I’ll always prefer
Our primary version to t’other way round –
Brill-o-bites, thrill-o-bites, silly old trillobites,
Nobbly or spiky, or all armadillo-like !
From Cambrian glamour to Permian quitters,
Those three-lobal, pan-global, crystal-eyed critters –
Heroic, and stoic, and Palaeozoic !