Napowrimo #30: Advice for mice

for mice.

If Lanius excubitor
(the Great Grey Shrike)
should happen to impale you on
a big sharp spike,

it’s really nothing personal:
it just intends to rip
some chunks of flesh from off your bones
and needs a better grip.

They call the shrike the butcher bird
and butchery is harder
if you do it without any knives
and a thornbush for a larder.

Napowrimo #28: bees and wasps

Honey, of course, is made by bees
but some may not have heard
about the hives of Cornish wasps
that make the lemon curd.


a bit late, but at least I’m back to only one behind schedule.

Napowrimo #27: Barnaby the Wonderhound

Barnaby the Wonderhound
can leap tall buildings at a single bound
and his amazing supernose
can track a man wherever he goes.
He’d be superb at fighting crime,
but he prefers to spend his time
looking for a place to snooze
and widdling in his owners’ shoes.

Napowrimo #24: Rooster Death

In Italy there lives a fowl
they know as Rooster Death;
but mainly that’s because it has
such dreadful garlic breath.

So if you think your reputation’s 
getting rather ghastly
then after meals be sure to eat
a little bunch of parsley.

Napowrimo #23: Lapwings

Because it’s Shakespeare’s birthday (probably), a poem inspired by a Shakespeherian bird reference:


Now begin;
For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs
Close by the ground, to hear our conference.
Much Ado About Nothing, 3.ii.23-5

The winter flocks of round-winged lapwings
with their creaking, bubbling song
are sharing all the gossip gained
all summer long.

They spend the summer slyly lurking
in the tangled tussock-grass
and listening to every word
as people pass.

Napowrimo #22: the baboon

One night a belligerent young baboon
decided he wanted to challenge the moon.
So he pointed his colourful arse at the sky
defying the moon until, bye and bye,
just as his legs were starting to ache
and his vertical bottom beginning to shake,
along came some clouds and the moon went in;
which he decided to count as a win.

Napowrimo #21: The Seal Voice Choir

If you stand on the beach on Holyhead
and listen attentively,
you may hear, above the sound of surf,
an unearthly harmony.

Upon a tiny rocky islet
out of sight of land
the world’s one and only seal voice choir
are sprawled on a patch of sand;

and sometimes, when the waves are still
and the breeze is off the sea
you can pick out a snatch of Cwm Rhondda
or perhaps Abide With Me.

Napowrimo #20: Iceweasels

Deep in the forests of Finland
where humans rarely go
are sometimes found unusual tracks
curving across the snow;

they’re rather like those of the stoat
but each is twelve inches by nine
And often nearby there’s a tuft of blue hair
caught in the bark of a pine.

If you spend a few years with the locals,
persuade them you’re discrete,
they may whisper of the iceweasels
that pad on hairy feet.

They say they live on baby elk;
cloaked by the night they creep,
and ever-so-softly snap the spines
of fawns while they’re asleep.

Napowrimo #19: the cinnamon owl

Birdwatchers know
the Cinnamon Owl
by its tempting aroma
and blood-chilling howl.
Indeed, with the owl
and the Aniseed Swan
the scent often lingers
after they’ve gone.

Napowrimo #18: the Buffalo

A buffalo can make
a quite delightful pet,
as long as you can find
an easy-going vet
who doesn’t mind an animal
that’s really very boring,
apart from the occasional
trampling and goring.


A buffalo will often make
a charming household pet,
but just in case, make sure you have
an easy-going vet
who doesn’t mind an animal
that’s really very boring
(apart from the occasional
trampling and goring).

Napowrimo #17: Music hath charms

Music soothes the savage beast —
or so the Romans said, at least —
but you still need to identify
what kind of beast you’re threatened by.
Gators loathe Puccini but are calmed by Johann Strauss;
crocodiles hate everything that isn’t acid house.

» Actually, the main source of that quote in English seems to be William Congreve, who really said ‘music hath charms to soothe the savage breast‘; but by the time I checked it, it was too late to start writing something new. So there.

Napowrimo #16: double dactyl

Littoral Kingfishers
hover by seashores on
flashing blue wings.

Monarchs beware of their
given the choice they’d be
fishing for kings.

Napowrimo #14: The mason bird

The remarkable nest of the weaver bird
is passably well known;
less famous is the mason bird
which carves a nest from stone.
The proportions can be clumsy;
there’s a tendency to schlock,
a rather Disney mixture
of the Gothic and Baroque;
some ornamental flourishes
are let down by poor technique.
But not bad for a bird holding
a chisel in its beak.


[I did write one for yesterday, but it was purely to say I’d written one and even by Napo standards it wasn’t worth posting]

Napowrimo #12: Giraffe

The usual way to spot giraffe
is by their penetrating laugh;
so those which are a bit dejected
frequently go undetected.

Napowrimo #10: The Garden Bear

There’s a bear at the end of the garden.
I don’t know why she’s there;
she just turned up one afternoon
and dug herself a lair.

She tends to squash the plants
but I’m glad to have a creature
who’s so majestic when she’s splashing
in the water feature.

I don’t see her in winter;
she curls up in her den
and hibernates till daffodils
are back in bloom again,

but when I take potato peelings
to the compost heap
I sometimes hear her snoring
or roaring in her sleep.


Originally I had ‘talking in her sleep’, but I didn’t want to anthropomorphise the bear too much. ‘Roaring’ is a bit odd, though, maybe. Mumbling? Whimpering? Growling?

Napowrimo #9: The Ocelot

The loveliest of wild cats
is probably the ocelot;
it also has nice shiny teeth
although it doesn’t floss a lot.

Napowrimo #7: The Flightless Falcon

On oceanic islands
under endless sky
many birds evolve without
the ability to fly.

The Inaccessible Island Rail,
the Stephens Island Wren,
the Réunion Sacred Ibis
and St Helena Swamphen:

all flightless; nearly all extinct;
but none were stranger than
the Flightless Falcon that once lived
on an island near Japan.

It was a ruthless hunter,
and would perch upon a rock
until below there waddled past
a Flightless Pigeon flock.

It swooped down at its prey;
and if it missed it then
it walked back over to its rock
and clambered up again.

Napowrimo #6: Storks

A bit on the paper-thin side even by this year’s standards; but during napowrimo you take what you can get.


In which a popular myth is dispelled, and some helpful advice is offered for homeowners living in those regions where this decorative species is most commonly found.

Thanks to an early misprint,
people think that storks bring babies.
That would be ridiculous;
they actually bring rabies.

If a pair nest on your chimney,
there’s no need out to freak;
unless you notice that the storks
are frothing at the beak.

Napowrimo #5: The Wandering Pine

The Wandering Pine migration’s an unstoppable stampede
which makes up in tenacity for what it lacks in speed;
usually they’ve travelled about eighteen inches when
it’s time for them to turn around and head back north again.

Napowrimo #4: The Great White Shark

The Great White Shark

Carcharodon carcharias
is sadly much maligned;
they live on cheese and use their teeth
to help remove the rind.*

*Since in the Pacific
cheddar can be hard to find,
they sometimes snack on swimmers.
But I daresay no-one minds.