Light Verse - Bestiary 2
Long Silly Poems About Animals:
The following are mostly long, meandering or meanderthal
poems about animals, more or less in the manner of Ogden Nash.
A few have nothing to do with animals, but are included as
part of a broader tribute to Nash's lines: "When called
by a panther,/Don't anther."
[Please read these with a wide screen, so as not to mess
up the long lines characteristic of this form, and whose long,
often unexpected rampages are part of the humor.]
The Worm Doesn't Know Which Way To Turn
To itself the earthworm
Must be loaded with cherm,
Having between its head and tail
All the gear of both female and male,
A most convenient
Though sometimes, looking for a piece of tail, instead,
Inadvertently, it gets good head.
This dual sexuality is why
You see after each rain on the sidewalk nude worms getting
In the sun, but hardly moving because, Oi Veh!--
The male part says "This way!" and the female part
So that even if it can figure out which end is its head,
It still can't agree on which way to head its head, an impasse
which gets it trodden on, fed on and, generally, dead.
Thus, in their jillions worms curl up and whiten in the sun
Just because there are two sexes to each one.
They get so numerous, white and curly, these hermaphrodites,
That primitive peoples weave them into wigs and when the wigs
properly aged, they eat them as part of their worm-Afro
But that's not the moral. The moral is, what seems a neat
Can lead to your being swarmed over hungrily by live ants,
And also, if you know enough to come in out of the rain
And you're the male or female brain
Or gender or whatever of a worm,
Be gentle, but firm.
Hello, Elephants? Are You Still There?
There are many unresolved questions about the elephant:
For example, if you speak into the trunk while your friend
Listens at the ass, are you using the elephone or the telephant,
And if the beast sits down, is the call billed at a flat rate
at the other end?
And if on his back you install a mahout,
Does he become a long-distance carrier?
(But I'd rather open a window and shout
Than put my ear to an elephants derriere.)
Elephant comes from the Greek for "ivory,"
A word for piano keys, isolated towers and breasts that are
Like the rhinocerus (horny-nosed) and hippopotamus
(River horse -- or a lady who should lipo bottom mass),
The elephant is -- O wacky term! --
Not because he pachs
things in his trunk, for example, peanut snachs;
No, because he is thick-skinned --
Some would say wall-of-brick-skinned.
Though huge and hard on trees, the elephant is a gentle creature
But beware the bull elephant's lust,
Not his most endearing feature,
For when in must, he must
Not be fussed at, and if you fuss at him in his must,
you may be seriously mussed
And sadly missed.
But generally the elephant is playful and placid.
I wish one elephant in particular had gotten pissed
And stepped on a shrink named "Jolly" West, pride
of UCLA, who
gave him an overdose of acid
(LSD) just to see (don't UC, LA-phant?) what might occur.
The elephant, someone's pet, went into convulsions and died,
that's what occurred, but thank God, it didn't affect
your grant status, sir.
More often the elephant's foe is the elephant poacher.
Poached elephant? Yuck! Sounds unkoacher.
Simpler to fry slices in butter --
Saving leftover elephant
In celephant --
Than to crack a whole pachyderm into boiling wutter.
But I jest. The poachers (or Tuscan Raiders) are after ivory
Cruel, but would you rather eat steak to stay alive, or eat
If you tell the poacher, "Elephants are close to extinction,"
He'll say, "So am I," missing, somehow, the distinction
Between himself and his family as opposed to a species,
For he sees only what HE sees,
And he doesn't see cute, floppy-eared Dumbo.
He sees elephant gumbo.
But why couldn't he at least
Take the tusks and spare the beast?
Tusks could be extracted painlessly by an elephant dentist...
But I suppose getting the elephant's consent is
Awkward, and the amount of anaesthetic needed
Would be exceeded
Only by what's needed to numb
The throbbing of a crushed-in-car-door thumb.
Perhaps the real threat to the elephant is his memory:
He is said to remember everything, from eternal verities to
But humans, proud in their pesky myriads, set
In their ways, have done so much they'd like to forget
And have forgotten by all.... My advice:
Elephants will survive when you and I become nice,
Not just because we'll be nicer to critters
(And teen-agers, children, women, waitresses and baby-sitters),
But because the world will be free of our fear of discovery,
For no lover, he
Who to hide his crimes, pursues oblivion,
Filling the world with a toxic fog that life cannot livion.
Have you behaved decently?)
More frivolous concerns than our becoming nice
Who in comic strips make elephants cower on hindlegs, freaking
True? Or just some poor cartoonist eeking or comeeking out
A meager income? A more real threat is army ants,
Who can swarm all over and up the trunks of elephants.
But better their swarming
And global warming,
Than another Ice Age
Like the one that froze their hairy ancesters in mid-rampage.
But their main enemy is, as usual, us -- or more properly,
Yes, we've heard that before.)
But don't, in your human arrogance,
Forget the strength and size of elephants,
And particularly note that the elephant, while hardly demonic,
Of vast grazing grounds and teeming herds bereft,
He feels he hasn't much time for words left;
Besides, it's so easy to bore
One who remembers it's all been said before;
Nor is it wise, boring
One so capable of goring,
And who can more easily crush you
Than shush you;
So when addressing an elephant,
Save the Neck for Me
The height of the giraffe
So if you're phoning his shoulders from his head, call colleck.
Though generally gentle, his huge hooves are sharp enough
deter a lion,
So something you may not want to try on
A giraffe -- no, not on a dare! --
Is tickling his throat with an ostrich feather
Or asking, "How's the weather
After all, giraffes are mute,
So if a giraffe is moved
Your bad manners, you may be deeply behooved.
If he weren't mute, then while mounting
His mate -- 18 feet to the top of the tup and counting --
He'd sing, "Climb every mounting..." and climax
My God!...To Thee!"
(Please pardon all this graphic sex,
But even this mild creature has moments of giraffe excess.)
But since he's mute, what he'd sing is moot, and in truth,
Would have to send his songs through so long a throat
That the triumphant trumpeting note
Might not emerge
Until long after he'd spent his urge,
Merely disturbing his (so-to-speak) smoking up there in his
His after-sex cighgarret,
[Or, if you prefer (since that's an awfully contrived rhyme),
smoking high on his ziggurat
His after-sex ciggurat.]
That's one reason the giraffe
Is a creature you'll never hear laugh
At jokes about the weather
In regions upper rather than nether --
Because his laugh would come out so late, he'd be thought
A category in which he'd rather not be grupid.
Besides, one hears of those who "choke
With laughter" at a joke;
And choking with laughter's
No joke for one whose throat stretches from here to the rafters;
So don't try to amuse the giraffe, Dear:
You don't want to send him, pretzel-necked, into the hereaftear.
(But this is grim stuff to write about the antic giraffe.
I'm a humorist, not Sylvia Plaff!)
Speaking, as we were, about how they woo,
You may well wonder -- I'm sure you do --
Given their height, long legs and 7-foot necks
(And speaking, as I may have mentioned we were, of sex),
Just how long is a giraffe in...other places?
You'll be pleased to hear, I'm sure, that the giraffe's conjugal
Are enhanced by, among
Other things, his long extensible tongue,
Which extends from between his large and mobile lips
To reach (when not occupied by courtship) the uppermost tips
Of Mimosa and Acacia trees...
Forgive my coy tease.
I know (you naughty reader!) you don't care about his tongue;
You want to know, is he (as every punster should be) well-hung?
In short, how long
Is his prong, his dong, his schlong, the throng in his thong
Singing lust's old sweet song
(Can't we imagine a giraffe in a thong or even a sarong and
What sarong with that?)
You merely ask, may one find comfort -- or discomfort -- O
In thy rod and thy staff?
I don't know, but I'm sure the sight of one would amaze ya,
Since, to tongue the highest leaves, he must be able to rise
So if you were a svelte lady giraffe, head among the mimosa,
The sight of a male in full frontal (bottomal?) flower would
make you sing, if you could sing (as, of course, you
couldn't), something other than "Lachrimosa,
Something like, "On thy tawny-freckled shaft,
What a joy to be giraffed!"
[Corny? Sexist? Hey, it's giraffic,
(Don't ask who comes first; they finish the race
In a neck and neck embrace.)
I think it safe to assume that, like the long-nosed
(of whom it is, phallaciously or not, supposed --
In which case, given an elephant's trunk,
He must be a hunk!) --
Like the long-nosed, the long-neckéd
Are indeed long when neckid
And, of course (this being a Family poem), espoused
(Though not monogamously: Mr. Giraffe, he
Has a harem like Mr. Khadaffy.)
One might say that, given his giraffe height,
One knows he's got, in his pencil, ample grrraphite.
What results from all his necking
The lady giraffe
Drops a single caffe --
Six feet tall at birth! --
All the way to earth;
For, destined always in class photos to in the back row be,
Giraffe can't indulge in acrophobia.
(To midwife a difficult 5-syllable baby giraffe of a rhyme,
I just split an infinitive. Pardon the crime.)
Though odd and gawky, as if created by some half-assed
Government committee, yet giraffes not only run giraffe-fast,
But do so gracefully, like tall ships in full sail,
Racing before a gale,
A fleet fleet of giraffes, one of the nobler sub-saharan sights;
Muscular necks stretched forward, not bent into the tucked-back
ess of heron flights,
Necks leaning, more like Italic "I"s than esses...
But I digresses.
Strange to see such an odd mammal lope hard.
How odd? The ancients called him a "camelopard"
(Somewhat camel-shaped and leopard-spotted).
At first, thinking themselves besotted,
They swore off both naming things and booze;
Then, not wanting to waste their remaining booze, they drank
all, then had a long snooze;
At last woke up with a hangover you can perhaps imagine,
And that was the oragine
(Unless I've grasped their canon amiss)
Of Alcoholics Anonamiss;
Though some say it began with the first sightings of the pink
elephant or the purple rhinonamiss;
And yet others assert it began when a hunter mistook two
antler-entangled elks for a single monster and started
But I digress,
As for the oddity of giraffes -- or giraffim? --
They are slightly less odd than they seem,
For there is one other member of the family Giraffidae
(As in "A giraffidae keeps the giriffraff awae"):
Namely the Okapi;
But he's small, not notably necked, a poor miniature copy
Of a giraffe,
Hardly a rough draff.
What else is there to say? The giraffe chews his cud,
Fending off the lion as if it were only Elmer Fudd,
Vulnerable only when he spreads his legs and lowers...and
lowers...and lowers his head
To drink, at which point...well, lion cubs must be fed;
But fortunately for the giraffe,
He seldom needs to drink, whether from stream or caraffe.
None the less, giraffes are edible, and if we must eat one
(Say we're starving on a safari, and we meet one...) --
Don't hog our giraffe;
I'll eat my half, and you eat yiraffe.
Try the thighs -- they should make terrific hams;
But avoid, I suggest, those awful giraffic jams.
A Few Limpet Lines
A snail is a gastropod
(Or stomach-foot), an odd
Sort of plumbing:
If your mate, a snail, is slow in cumbing,
You must be patient with your gastropod,
And not yell "Faster! Faster! O GOD!"
For a snail, like an army, travels on its stomach --
One disk-like pad serving as legs, feet and gut;
A rather slow
Way to go,
And in this case, both senses of go (to wit:
The digestive and the ambulatory) fit.
Gastropods include the snail, the limpet and the slug,
Easy to remember: "The snail limpet sluggishly down the
One sort of snail is called the periwinkle;
The name evokes sweet bells, a faery tinkle,
A graceful sprite with toes that twinkle,
Or so you'd thinkle...
To no avail:
It's just a snail,
And so is the whelk,
For whom life is not always cookies and melk,
So that often it needs to hide, and hides so well,
Oozed into the spiral cup of its shell,
That of the whelk is "Blessed are the meek" writ
And also we speak of the "whelk cupped secret."
Though a Frenchman or other psychopath'll eat
Snails, probably snails quail most from athlete
's foot, not the foot of an athlete, but an itch which,
To one mostly foot must be a bitch,
Worse far than the scrunch of human foot,
Which at least would put
It out of its misery
(As often happens before a snail can creep into a protective
moves at one pace, no telling his dawdle from his hurry).
His mating would be awkward, wouldn' it,
If he kept putting his foot in it?
His pickup line may well be "Footsie,
Have I implied that snails are always slow?
For being small, a snail
May travel by mail.
But mailed snails are frail:
They are used to being cramped,
But averse to being stamped,
And, being all one foot, can't raise one to stamp back with
So treat them as gently as you'd treat your mother.
An army may be the slowest-moving gastropod of all, though
really it has feet,
And is only metaphorically gastropodal -- except when
And then its encounters with the temporal-spatial
Are less sluggish than glacial,
For an army, defeated, has, not only no feet and no feats,
But also no stomach for its eats
Or for anything. Yet even conquering hordes
Seem excruciatingly slow to their impatient warlords,
If not to the folks in the path
Of their wrath --
For as snails are pests in a garden,
So an army is hard on
The human crop, its trail of crime,
Like the snail's, pure slime,
But instead of silver, black --
And armies, unlike snails, lack
That touch of the gently comic
You'd expect from what has a stomach for a foot or, if you
prefer, a foot for a stomic.
We have barely touched upon the vast subject of snails,
Limpets, slugs, winkles, whelks and their ilk. The
wealth of details
Goes beyond my scope. If subjected to serious study,
No doubt the snail will turn out to be our buddy,
Source of food and, from shells, buttons;
And a better simile for slowness nuttin's!
Moreover, we can learn the weird ways of our Master, God,
From serious study of the gasterpod,
For He Who assigned to our organs of generation pissing
And to our lips eating, talking, sneering, smiling and kissing,
Engineered the snail to inch though the yard on a foot
That is inwardly metabolizing flower, stem and root.
But if you study snails to become intimate with your designer,
Make snails your MAJOR, lest you be charged with molluscation
of a minor.
The Old Shell Game
The turtle moves slow, as perhaps you've heard.
In fact a turtle at high speed may with difficulty overtake
But should the turtle happen to turn turtle,
It'll no more move than the turd'll.
You almost never see the turtle
Or hop or hula or leap a hurdle,
Though there's no telling what he might do if he could
shimmy out of his bony girdle.
But in a race with a hare, the turtle
Will never win the laurel, bay or myrtle,
Nor place nor show: He arrives so late,
He's not even an also-ran, but an also-plod or an also-serve-who-
One sometimes sees a soldierless helmet
Marching across the highway --
STOP! Don't overwhelm it;
It will get to the other side some by-and-by day.
The turtle's mouth is a beak,
Toothless, but not weak,
So don't dawdle
With a snapping tawdle,
Or if you MUST linger,
Don't give one the finger.
Turtles are eaten fresh or canned, which is
What comes of looking like sandwiches.
Some turtles live on land, some in fresh water, some in salt
That is, in salt water, not in the seasoning added to turtle
soup as, to injury, insult.
Land turtles are often called tortoises;
Partly from tortus, twisted, not for the force that by
failure to exhort us is
Justified, but for their stubby feet, twisted-under, that
Are they thus dubbed,
But also from tartaruca, "hellish beast of Tartary,"
Or, says another dictionary, of Tartarus -- beneath Hades
(But I prefer "Tartary,"
Because it rhymes with artery,
And arteries include aortas,
Which rhyme [as they orta] [sorta] with tortas.)
But what have tortoises to do with Tartarus or Tartary?
They live not in subterranean fire, but on land or in domains
And yet, says the dictionary, they were symbols of heresy
Perhaps because heresy is hidden, and when the tortoise pulls
into his shell, we say, "Wheresy?"
(And, speaking of Tartarus, please don't confuse
Tartarus with TARTS R US, whose client may choose
Between coupling with a woman or a warm cherry pie --
And if the latter, surely he is in need of therrypie! --
But I digress....)
If I dwell so on the derivation of tortous,
It is because (or so all the dictionaries report to us)
"Tortoise," tortus and "Tartarus" are
also the sources of
(As influenced by "turtle", the turtledove; though,
bird thou never wurtle!)
(And, similarly, the spelling "tortoise" was influenced
From porcus plus piscis -- or PIG FISH, Gawdhorpoise!)
Speaking of coupling with pies, how DOES the turtle
Manage to be furtle?
The shell, so useful for the furtive,
Would seem to obstruct the masculinely assurtive.
And yet, like lost pins, they multiply -- here a pin, there
Everywhere a terrapin.
And so through the land the vice (not voice) of the turdle
How? Therein lies a mystery whose corpus
Delicti will not be found in the etymology of porpus
Or by torturing the sources of "tortoise".
For this, life too short is;
Your mystery, tortoise, is beyond the surmise of even stout
So tata, Tartary turtury tortoise
("Tur Tur" being the song of the dove called, for
For the turtledove sings -- that's how birds flirt'll.)
(By the way, "stout Cortes," he who surmises upon
a peak in
To which surmise is Keats his first peek into Chapman's Homer
That "Cortes," which sort of rhymes with tortoise,
Which sort of rhymes with nothing much except maybe Calboa
As in the Calboas and the Indians out west,
So thank you, Keats, for giving Cortes your surmise -- but
again, I've digrest!...)
-- So tata, you too too Tartary turtury turtle, tata,
For, of further rhymes for turtle, I've not gata
Some Come Bouncing and Some Come A-waltzing
BOING bounces the kangaroo sire beside his kangaroo dam --
"Boing! Boing! Boing!"
He is steadily going,
And, going steady, he BOINKs his mate with scarcely a "thangaryou
Of course, this being Australia,
A "mate" may not entail ya
Mating, since everyone's your mate (or, as they say, "Might"),
As in "G'dye, Might;"
So you could get in quite a fight
Trying to "might" with a "might" who was
Another guy, not a gal,
Though out in the out-out-outback without even a female aborigine
To encourage any
Heterosexual release of tension,
One, though a mensch, might begin to ogle his fellow menschen,
hankering for hanky panky in the outback Down Under:
Who knows what these half-savage Crocodile Dundees
In their ragged undees
Have dun der?
But a male kangaroo doesn't flounder
From his lady friends to his laddy friends -- plural, for
And so (or "Anzo", as they say down under) he bounces
As he mounts his
Harem of groupies, topping them hoppily and kangaroupially,
Soon after which they give birth -- with a pang -- marsupially,
To springy offspring, each called (in slangaroo) a "joey,"
Whether a girl or a boey.
The mother carries her joey in front (not out back)
In a pouch or sac;
Thus, when most mammals are still in the womb,
The Marsupial gets a semi-detached room
With a view
of more than the inside of a kangaroo,
And there, peering out from his pocket or pouch or sac,
The joey is shown on every "Pocket Book," reading
Probably -- needing to learn the facts
Of life -- he is reading The Joey of Sacs.
Boing! and Nothingness
It is not thought prudent to box
With a kangaroo, who both kicks and socks
And keeps moving: BOING! BOING! BOING!
For he's not a navel-contemplating Yin-and-Yang Guru,
No, he's a kanguru;
Less a good sport than a gang-banger who
Goads you to anger and after anger, rue.
Can he punch?
He'll eat your lunch,
Knocking you out of combat
Before you can say "Wascally wombat!"
He'll put out your light
Faster than Mama can sing "Wallaby and Goodnight."
So if invited to form a tango-twosome
With a kangaroo, Son,
Think of Johnnie without an arm or a leg for whom they sang
And say no thanks, lest you meet a fate kangaruesome.
Please Don't Croak
The frogs on earth are vanishing, we hear,
Or if not near extinction,
Close enough to excite the ardor of those who meat, ivory
trinkets and coats made of mink shun.
Yet as they take sad leave of earth,
In TV ads, they're blobs of mirth,
Descending, we learn, to extinction's lowest rungs
By catching at beer trucks with sticky tongues.
Surviving frogs still squat on pads in bogs,
Intent on their ceaseless (we thought) mono- or dia- or trialogs,
Chanting on behalf of some canny (or bottlely) advertiser
"Bud" and "Wiser" and "Bud"
and "Wiser" -
Hearing which artificial frog din,
How I yearn for the voice of Ogden
(Nash, I mean, the poet, not the city in Utah,
About which I don't give a hootah
And to yearn for the voice of which would be highly unsuita-
Ble - if you don't know Nash, look him up on your computah),
But, alas, Ogden Nash and his Nashin'
Are long out of fashin,
And he's deceased to boot (ah!
No more now than a name, not to conjure with, but to mistake
for a car or a city in Utah -
But, like that car, I ramble,
My syntax as Byzantine as 'Stambul).
Thus, bereft as we are of Nash's urbane, genial but sharp
My own must suffoice
To say, O frogs, O ye of tongues most dart-like
And sensual songs most fart-like,
O noble martyrs, decimated without apology
In the killing fields of high-school biology
So that by frogicide
Our children may learn how much nastier than an outside is
inside when it is outside,
O bulge-eyed swamp Cassandras
Chanting your endless gloomy mantras,
Whose ignoble fate
Has been to be bait,
O frog, is it God or Nature or Man that is inhibiting
Your performance so ribbeting?
O limberly leaping amphibians,
Why O why can't it be those grim surly creeping damn Libyans
(If someone MUST vanish)
Or the Ku Kluxors most Klannish,
None of whom could catch a pesky fly with his tongue
Or would sing all night just to tell us spring has sprung?
O frog - what can I say? I've got you in my throat -
A small lump, but one, I fear, without antidote,
For, frog, though there's beer sales and money
In finding you funny,
Your slippery fate is not at all funny, but sore grievous.
Please don't leave us.
[Note: The reference to poet Ogden Nash in connection with
rambling (above and in the title below) refers to the old
American Motors car, the Nash Rambler.]
(Variations on "When called by a panther,/Don't anther.")
When met by a cobra,
When treed by a tiger,
When addressed by a python,
Pleathe don't cry, thon!
When answering an elephant,
When whistled at by a hippopotamus,
It's time to reduce hip or bottom mass.
When invited over by an anaconda,
Say, Oh no, please don't go to such
trouble anaconda me!
When propositioned by a rhinocerus,
When addressing a lioness,
Say "Your Hioness!"
When interrogated by a tigress,
When approached by a goose,
Mind your caboose.
When dating a barracuda charmer,
Wear a suda armor.
When frowned upon by a leopard eye,
You're in jeopardeye.
Asked out for a stroll crocodilic,
Expect it to be, on the whole, mock-idylic.
When challenged by a shark,
Say, "Eh, what's up, Dark?"
Asked out by a poet,
When called over by a volcano,
Just say no.
Asked out by a cheetah,
When invited to take, with a hyena, tea,
Respond from hy en a tree.
When called by a grizzly,
Be otherwise engaged, bizzly.
When charged by a Doberman,
It's all ober, man.
means "healing the spirit,
Quite a trick
To heal what they believe, O blithe or not tho blithe or nithe
not tho nithe thpirit, thou never wirit,
So when a psychiatrist commands: "HEEL! SPIRIT!",
Don't hear it.
Nash's Advice To Poe
When called by a raven,
To Avoid the Mystic's Mistake...
When called by the void,
Pretend you ain't hoid.
When called by a silence,
Any answer is preferable to none, even sex and vilence.