Saturday, 31 January 2015

A couple of wildlife poems

Urban Fox

Seen, racing out of a leafy side-street,
its tail cartoon exhaust fumes (Samson's fox-fires?);
heard, perhaps, in the night, if fox not wind
and drain-pipe made that dog-bark didgeridoo;
tweeted by me, sleepless, asking that question.
Side-street, cartoon, exhaust, Bible, pipes, Twitter,
for me; not the wild Scarp, the branch-caught paw,
the pelt still covering the skeleton.

Ticking the Boxes

Projecting from the rosemary bush,
spaghetti-thin but green,
rigid but with self-moving end --
no other tweeps had seen,

no, nor gardening kinswomen
when I described this growth.
So was it life? and was it wild?
I'm ticking Yes for both.

I'll think about what uses I
can make of that decision.
Is wildlife still what people plead
for watching television?

'Urban fox' was written for the Barn Owl Trust poetry competition at the beginning of 2013, and published in the course of submission to the 2014 Earth Vision contest.  Scarp is the book by Nick Papadimitriou, a remarkable piece of reporting and meditating on a 17-mile ridge of broken land on the edges of North London.  Nick Papadimitriou's power of evoking the place is something I can only envy, but 'Urban fox' is based on something I actually saw.  And I heard the nocturnal dog-bark didgeridoo too.

'Ticking the boxes' was likewise written for the Barn Owl Trust competition and published by Earth Vision.  The first six lines are straightforward reporting.  I genuinely did  see such a thing in our garden, and asked around ("tweeps" are Twitter people, for those who don't know).  Current theory makes the thing a shoot, or possibly a leaf in misleading visual alignment with something else, pulled about by a  spider's web.

In Earth Vision, 'Ticking the boxes' won!