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'Animal Kingdom'
April 2012

30 April 2012

Favourite Animal

The terrain that was different in the past was where animals that I was interested in were found.  Perhaps they would be the animals that existed then that exist at present.  Certain warmer places would at present be warm enough to these animals.  I would be interested to see the animals where they were in the past.
Bears would be interested to see but would be dangerous.

Andrew Jeremiah

My Cats

I have two cats at home. I'll tell you a bit about them. One is called Midnight. He's black and very soft to touch. He has really bright yellow eyes and they stand out so much, especially when he's lying on on something black. He has a very annoying meow and often wakes me up with it at the weekend when he wants to go out. He is a friendly cat and plays with anything that hangs or moves about. When he pounces it is very funny as he wiggles his bum.

Our other cat is called Ozzy (after Ozzy Ozbourne). He's rather a stupid boy and always runs away from us. He always comes to see me at night, when everyone is asleep. Then he can be quite affectionate. He's tabby and white with a brown smudge on his nose. His tummy is really fluffy and spotty. He's a very pretty cat. Shame he isn't very friendly. 

Sometimes at night they both get together and have a mad half hour where they chase each other around the house and make a right racket. It's very annoying when they fight. They are so noisy.

Debbie Feltz

The Anxious Mother

I'm only a cat,

But mothers, you see,
Are fond of their children
Whatever they be.

And I really must say,

Although only a cat
My anxiety sends
My heart pit-a-pat

These dear little kitties

So fluffy and round
Are alll I possess, for
The others were sold

So who can wonder,

I tremble with fright,
Whenever my babies
Are out of my sight

Oh it's simply absurd,

Of people to say
That poor mother pussies
Don't suffer that way

For I firmly declare

Most solemnly that
A mother's a mother
Whether a Queen or a cat.

Heather Benn

I dream to be free

As I stand in my enclosure watching the world go by

I have often heard people remark as they stare into my intelligent eyes
I wonder what she’s thinking; I wonder what’s on her mind
They say an elephant never forgets, well I will never forget my home
My mind starts to wander, to happier times, when I used to be free
I dream to be free, to see my friends from the herd again,

I’m an African elephant and I’m here in the zoo to serve a purpose, educate you,

And to create young, to be reared, then taken away
Some of them go to on to be part another exhibit in a zoo
The luckier ones have the chance to be released to where they belong
With every one that goes back to the wild
I can’t help but feel jealous, when is it my turn
The zoo is a sanctuary to preserve endangered species
I understand that without zoos there would be no wild elephants, but
I dream to be free to roam the African plains

With every passing day that goes by

I stand in this enclosure, with my long nose outstretched through the bars
I have everything an elephant could want
There is water for me to drink, grass to graze and trees for shelter
I have two other elephants to keep me company; and an indoor area for shelter
The keepers bring us food and care for us day and night; it is a life of luxury
I hate to sound ungrateful but
I dream to be free even just for a month, a week or even just a day

Liz Jury


I was abandoned to this fate.

On the boat, they got me drunk.
If my life begins today, call it Monday.

Tuesday is too early to be in trouble.

I was woken by crabs chewing my toes off.
The ones I killed got eaten by their mates.

Today I found a stream 3000 paces inland.

Hoof & clawprints on the bank, a pool
where I slipped, came out bruised but clean.

More shades of green that I can count.

If anyone is watching me, I want to meet them.
I don’t want company, just food & shelter.

This morning I chose the wrong fruit,

simply because it overhung the stream.
Leering teeth met the crabmeat I puked up.

Six days in, I have not slept properly.

I should build a shelter, but can’t.
I share this mangrove with spiders & snakes.

Today I would like to rest, but even I

can read weather and high water marks.
Today I must abandon the word can’t.

Brian Docherty
Word for Word Writers Group


(after Hans Feibush, Mandrill and Mangabeys,1947)

In our previous lives, we were civilised.

Now, to the outside world, or off-worlders,
we look like monkeys. Do not look at me
like that. I know I appear to be an adult
male mandrill, you seem to be tree-dwellers
whose home is a thousand miles from mine.
I will not eat you, I do not want to mate
with you, do not even want to be your leader.
However, as the senior adult male here,
it is up to me to get us out of this mess.

Soon it will be midwinter friends, and we,

I mean my tribe, always mark the occasion.
Goodwill to all is my motto, even to those
others who caused this mess, so let us avoid
their settlements, if we wish harm to none.
Their food is no good, their water no good,
they are no good. Some still have weapons,
still think the world might revert to what
it was before. Not in their lifetimes, not in
a hundred lifetimes, perhaps never.

South is no good, north is no good,

west is water. I say - go east, or sit tight,
wait for the world to come to us. I do not
think you will like the world that will come
to you, or that the world will like you.
How far back can you remember friends?
Do you think we were always like this,
or the sky was always that colour? No,
it was not, we were not, but that was then.
Now, we walk. Let us walk together.

Brian Docherty
Word for Word Writers Group

Bottlenose Dolphins

Vast are the wonders beneath the seas

Where life in abundance abounds
Creatures and Fish and Mammals
Each in their favourite hunting grounds
But we’re now in the world of the Dolphin
An household favourite for some
A Sea Life attraction for many
And from across the world they come
To see these beautiful creatures
That swim the oceans deep
But some are cared for in Sea Life Centres
Where entertainment pays for their keep
In the wild Bottlenose Dolphins survive
In Oceans the whole world wide
And many are spotted from ships cruising
Watched with interest from the ship’s side
They are Family orientated
And in “pods” together they’ll swim
For safety from their predators
Or deterring the hunters whim
Although athletic and mobile in stature
Their sight is very poor
So they rely on an inbuilt sonar system
To search for food on the ocean’s floor
As well as direction finding apparatus
When travelling areas anew
Perhaps in search for a mating ground
Essential for them and food too
For each Dolphin has a large daily appetite
Squid and fish they’ll eat 30 pounds
Which they locate with their personal Sonar
By the various echoes and sounds
It takes 15 years to reach maturity
Tho’ females are quicker it seems
A strong ritual of communication applies
Before reproductive schemes
The female will carry the calf for 12 months
Swimming with the “pod” by her side
And when the calf is finally born
Midwife Dolphins their skills are tried
As they swim side by side with the family
The new calf will be nursed for 6 years
Only then will it have to fend for itself
Unless a large predator appears
When all the Dolphin “pod” will fight as one
On their survival it often depends
These wonderful creatures of the sea
Known as the Ocean’s best friends.

Dennis Shrubshall
7th December 2011


Feeling the warmth of the sun on his back, Tinker slowly opened his eyes. What he saw amazed him, gone was the dimness of a winter's afternoon and gone too was the pain from which he had been suffering. Moreover he felt better than he had for many a long year and to add to it all when he moved his back leg for a good scratch he realized that he was much slimmer than he had been. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, he looked and felt like a young cat again.  

As he took in his new surroundings, he saw that he was in a large meadow dotted with trees, large boulders each had a flow of cool clear water running down their sides and in their shadows were bowls full of food. A gate stood at one corner while at the opposite corner was a pretty hump back bridge which crossed a tinkling brook that ran down one side of the meadow. Overhead the sun shone out of a cloudless sky, the temperature was very comfortable but there were patches of shade by the trees and boulders if needed. All in all the closest Tinker could imagine was that it was Pet Heaven.  

He felt so happy and relaxed that when he noticed many dogs, canaries and budgerigars surrounding him, he felt no inclination to chase, argue or fight with anybody. There too were a smattering of snakes, chameleons white rats, white mice, and various other creatures which he could not identify. As he lay there in the supreme comfort of his new surroundings, he heard a yapping sound he felt was familiar. A small brown, white and black dog was running towards him, calling him byname whilst wagging a stumpy tail in feverish excitement.  

"Grover!" exclaimed Tinker "is it really you?"  

"Yes it's me" shouted the little dog joyfully "welcome to Rainbow bridge" 

"Rainbow Bridge?" asked Tinker "whatever's that? Pet Heaven? - it certainly looks like it!"  

"Not exactly. I understand that we have to wait here until something really exciting happens" Grover replied "but I'm not sure what it will be." 

"How long do we have to wait?"  

"There is no time here at Rainbow Bridge" Grover replied "we must be patient. But we have all the time in the world now and here there is no danger, fighting or animosity of any kind"  

"So I see" said Tinker shaking his head to dislodge a passing canary that had perched on it.  

By now the sun was setting, but it felt just as warm as earlier; the two friends lay down by one of the trees.

"I don't really know how I got here" mused Tinker "I remember feeling really bad, the pain was awful, I felt something sharp on the back of my neck and then I felt oh so tired. All I could hear was Her sobbing then that faded and the next thing I was here with you, Grover"  

"Yes I know" replied Grover "the same thing happened to me. I had been feeling bad for some time until this strange man came up to my basket. But I was hurting so much that I hardly felt the pain on my neck, I couldn't see anything but could hear Her sobbing too, then I found myself waking up here."  There was a silence "Tinker?" called Grover, no

reply. Just a gentle purring and heavy breathing "night night, Tinker, sleep well.........."  

So the two friends enjoyed themselves at Rainbow Bridge.

Every so often a human would enter the meadow through the gate, and every time some of the animals would go to greet them. They would walk over the meadow to the little bridge, cross over and disappear from view. The two friends could not understand what was happening.  

Many days passed until one day Grover looked towards the gate

"It's Her" he cried and with his little tail wagging furiously, he sprinted towards the slim redheaded lady who had just come through the gate.

"Dogs" said Tinker to himself "no patience, always running everywhere!" and, getting to his feet, slowly followed in Grover's tracks.  

He and Grover were swept up in loving arms, once again he heard the sobs, but this time they were sobs of happiness.   Joyfully the trio walked to the bridge

"Come on" She said "we are going to meet a Very Special Person, we mustn't be late."  As they crossed the bridge Tinker said

"I think I know where we are going." .

"Where?" asked Grover  

"Why Heaven, of course" replied Tinker.

Henry Dallimore

Animal Story

In my garden there once lived a mole whose name was Sebastian. He lived underground and he ate worms and he never saw the sun. One night Sebastian met a rabbit out for a stroll and they got talking.......

"Hello Rabbit" said Sebastian," What are you doing out so late ?"

"Oh, just taking the night air - it was a lovely day today, the sun was shining and the bees were buzzing and..."

"Now don't tease me" said Mole "You know I'm not a believer in this Sun you tell me of."

"The Sun is not something you have to believe in, it's just there; if you came out in the daytime you would feel it."

"You know very well that we moles never come out in the daytime." Replied Sebastian.

"Its against our nature."

"And who told you that ?"

"A learned authority, Septimus Mole, in the great book of Mole, which has been passed down from mole to mole for countless generations."

"So, you would rather believe a dusty old book than see for yourself then?"

"No mole has believed in the Sun for hundreds of years, we are all atheists you see. Your Sun means nothing to us."

"But if you could only see! Oh Mole, the sun gives us light and warmth and brings us joy and makes us dance."

"You are as mad as the March Hare, Rabbit, be on your way!"

Just them Badger arrived, Badger was very old and very wise and loved to debate.

"What's this all about then?" Asked Badger.

"You tell him." Said Rabbit. " Tell him about the sun."

"The sun," began Badger, " is a great ball of fire that moves across the heavens every day and...."

"Now that's impossible." Interrupted Mole. " Since anybody knows a fire can not move. Why only last week there was a fire in the garden and that certainly did not move."

"Well..." Said Badger defensively." It's not that type of fire."

"Not that type of fire? What nonsense. And how does it stay up there then?"

"Ah, well. Um. Because heat rises -- I suppose."

"You don't know - You don't even know that."

"Take the moon, you do believe in the moon?" Said Badger hurriedly

"Of course I do Badger, I'm not a fool, why there it is. It has just come out."

"Well, moonshine is actually reflected light from the sun."

"Prove it. - - I say prove it." said Mole.

"Ah well, that might be difficult, how do you explain it ?"

"Moonshine? The moon shines by its nature. Its it's nature to shine."

"But.. But.. That explains nothing Mole. I could draw you diagrams, but I fear they would mean little to you, how the many faces of the moon are caused by where the Sun and the Moon and the Earth are in their orbits."

"Thats all very well for you. If you believe the Sun exists you would believe anything." Said Mole. " I prefer to believe my own senses."

"But we do." Said Rabbit and Badger together.  "Any day we can see the sun, even you, if you tried, could feel its warmth on your back. Please try Mole."

But Mole would not try, because he had it on good authority that the Sun was a myth, and he knew fire was dangerous and fire did not move, and nobody could explain it to his satisfaction. He went on living underground, eating his worms and was happy ever after.



First we fed the birds,

then we let out a cat.
Birds are now singing:
traitor, traitor, traitor.
In my ears is their singing
ringing: Traitor, traitor ...
The cat sleeps,
his full belly
rests on the pillow
and his whiskers
are twitching.
He dreams
about catching
another bird.
Today he was well fed.
Traitor, traitor, traitor ...

Today, the cat

will not go out.
Birds call him
ugly, nasty names,
and tell him,
what they are going
to do to his: liver,
spleen, eyes,
and other body parts.

Marie Neumann


I am a hungry seagull

Hovering through the air
Watching for all the people
I am a hungry seagull
Their chips are irresistible
Waiting for my share
I am a hungry seagull
Hovering through the air

Mark Crittenden


Symmetrical beauty abiding

Cutting through the surface, gliding
Towering head in splendour
Over pure white body so tender
Majestic in all glory
Striking those deemed predatory
Symmetrical beauty abiding
Cutting through the surface, gliding

Mark Crittenden



Transfixed against movements in time

Its motionless repose doth convey
Ripples distort its symmetrical mime

Elevating bodily structure so sublime

Velvety plumage predominantly grey
Transfixed against movements in time

Stretched out winding neck, its prime

Scanning beneath o’er shallow estuary
Ripples distort its symmetrical mime

Dormant thro’ the seasonal climes

Subsisting in the cold light of day
Transfixed against movements in time

Ochre beak doth splits the filmy slime

Stalking rapidly, entrapping its prey
Ripples distort its symmetrical mime

Thro’ aquatic world eyes, a crime

Constantly scrutinised, kept at bay
Transfixed against movements in time
Ripples distort its symmetrical mime

Mark Crittenden


Scavenging menace, ultimate foe

Conceited in its negative trait
Ensnaring fresh blood that doth flows
Grimly reaping the earthly bait

Hoarding in darkened depths below

Enshrouding with its predatory gait
Scavenging menace, ultimate foe
Conceited in its negative trait

Its expelling numbers doth show

Final count, the untimely fate
Salute it before it’s too late
Satan’s clutches will at last overthrow
Scavenging menace, ultimate foe
Conceited in its negative trait

Mark Crittenden

The Tale of the Frog & the Lion - a challenge!

Had this in 'work in progress' for far too long! Can't decide on the ending - Happy, Sad, or Quirky? 

So I am handing it over to my FED friends - what will you do with it?

At present in note form and unformatted.

“Not much water left here Sir, I’m afraid and what there is - is stagnant” croaked the frog, guarding his muddy pool.

“I am the King of the Beasts and I will satisfy my thirst as and when I like!”

“But it’s taken me weeks to find this refuge, as your loyal subject, I beseech you to satisfy your thirst elsewhere”.

“You’re begging does you justice, but in vain, so hop away frog, I don’t want you stuck in my throat, turning my roar into a croak, such as yours!”

“Oh no, that would never do your Majesty, for that would surely result in abdication. Look we both need this measly patch of water, can we negotiate?”

“NEGOTATE, NEGOTIATE - demean my power and NEGOTIATE! Bless my mane you ask too much”

You’re Majesty, I hate to resort to subterfuge on this, but it seems the time has come to reveal who I really am”.

“Mmm you are clever frog, you raise my curiosity. Go on then, I’m listening, but be quick about it!”

“Sir, I’m your potential son-in-law and I have travelled this drought ridden land to seek a nuzzling kiss from your daughter; for a wicked hyena cast a spell upon me, turning me from a handsome young lion, into what you see now, a slimy frog. Only your beautiful princess can reverse the spell and allow me to be your successor. So you’re Majesty, it suits us both to leave this water be for now. Allow your daughter to come here – to this water hole – before midnight, and then tomorrow we can drink side by side and drain it dry”.

“I have heard of such sorcery from the cries of the vultures” the Lion replied. “Okay frog, for now I won’tdrink from the pool. I will send my daughter to you tonight and return at dawn. If you are, a young lion, I will greet you as one of my own, but if you are still a frog, I will drain this water-hole dry and throw my head back and roar as you lie stranded!”

“Thank-you Sir, I bow down to your greatness and mercy”.

“There’ll be no mercy, albeit frog or lion. For as a frog you’ll end up homeless and as a lion you shall have to fight me someday for the right to rule this territory. So until dawn, I’ll leave you in peace.”

And so it was; at dawn the young lioness padded down to the waterhole as instructed by her father. She was a little nervous at the prospect of finding true love; her tail sweeping the dust and all that could be heard was sneezing ants, reaching for their handkerchiefs.

What happens next? It is up to you!

Jan Hedger

Animal Kingdom

Where is it?

I may guess.
Controlled water
Did we count
them all?

Yes, we shoot

We eat its meat.
i don't want to have
contact with one
crossing road
in the night.
This is why I don't
like to drive
in the dark.

Where is it?

In the air?
Flying ducks
following their route.
It was an airplane
crossing their way.
Many duck casualties
and one crippled plane
was the result.

Where is it?

Definitely in jungle.
Attacking insect
and variety
of hungry snakes.

Where is it?

In the water.
we don't have
much control
over ocean life.
We fish them,
we eat them.
But control them?

Animal Kingdoms

are in oceans,
where they are free
to hunt, to eat ...
In deep ocean,
I mean.
Who is the King,
or a Queen?
The biggest?
Why were they
to California coast
to die there?
Who, or what
was chasing them?
I do not know.

Marie Neumann


I see my dog running free over the hills and dales, free at last from the shackles that have held him for so long. The wind is flowing past him, making his ears flap like sails, and the legs are graceful with every stride running, running, faster, faster.

Each blade of grass or tree becomes a wonderful sense of smell to be explored. We both reach a beautiful lake, the swans flutter around, looking at us with a wild look in their eyes. Not quite sure, the dog crouches down. Do I run or stand my ground?

I smile at him and say

"Don't be afraid. If you smile at them they will smile back."

At that point he looks at me with dark brown eyes and the biggest smile. Should it not only be humans who can smile?

Pauline Faulkner


A 'carte postale' of my grandmother's from the Great War:

unwritten, spots of mould in 'adresse' and 'correspondance',
and overleaf, someone has caught their mates, flamboyantly stretched at the front to frame a dog. I can't get the breed,
some terrier type,white with ears pricked, one black.
Of course, everyone has gone now, but what's that mutt
doing in his oddity, beyond scratching a hole for a bone.

Bruce Barnes

Blue Whale

Elemental Queen

Regal grace compels with song
We are connected

Ashley Jordan

Billy the Bat

Have you heard about,

Billy the bat
Who sleeps upside down,
Like an acrobat?
Hanging from claws
His wings tucked in tight
He sleeps through the day
And flies by night
Flapping and fluttering,
And swooping low
But how does Billy,
Know where to go?
He follows the signals
That bounce here and there,
All round about him,
Vibrating the air
Munching on moths
And snapping at gnats
Feeding on flies
And teasing the cats
Skimming the water
Dodging round trees
Laughing at hedgehogs
Scratching their fleas
Oh Billy the bat
Has so much fun
When the moon is high
And hiding the sun
But as he gets sleepy
And too tired to play
He flies back to his barn
To sleep over the hay.

Jan Hedger

Chance Encounter

Treat me kindly sir

For I'm only passing through
Lay down your rifle
Don't aim straight and true
I'm sorry if I surprised you
With stealth and silent paws
But lay down your rifle sir
For I'm only passing through.

Treat me kindly sir

A creature of God's earth
Lay down your rifle
Do not betray your birth
Co-existing in our worth
Let's respect our right to live
So lay down your rifle sir
A creature of God's earth.

Jan Hedger


Borders, manmade,

On Gods Earth,
Walls, barriers,
Erected 10 meters high.
Keeping the enemy out!
Patrols, armed.
Aim, shoot to kill!
Target, illegal entrants.
Borders, made by gangs.
Our postcodes, taken.
Anyone seen on their ground,
Stabbed, beaten, kicked-in or worse.
School kids, ‘hanging’ in their territory.
Woe betides the rival stray.
A child of all ages but still a child.
Alone he walks through barren land.
Anger flares, threats, teasing ridicule humiliation.
You were in the wrong place. Weren’t you?
Who allocated towns and cities to animal packs?
Who gave permission? No one.
Take what you can!
Bugger you all! I’m all right!
Attitude, greed, power, domination.
Everyday lives affected.
What a great society, what a great future!

Zahida Shah
goodmayes writers

"Throw me a Bone"

Master please, no ‘lead’ today

I feel the need to wander free
Though many times I’ve run away
I‘ve always scampered back for tea
I’ve been your faithful charge, ’tis true
Ever since you were a boy
‘Throw me a bone’ I beg of you
Give me something to enjoy

Back when you kissed my nose twice daily

Pulled my tail and stroked my ears
I knelt with you through three 'Hail Mary’s'
Tickled ‘tum’ brought me to tears
Fine 'Ladies' who did sniff around
Had me straining at the ‘leash’
You rubbed my nose upon the ground
Pretence in search of some 'Hashish'

A warning came that I’d be neutered

If by chance I had some luck
Another 'Pup' could still be tutored
To 'Dogs Home' now that would suck
Admonished me for cocking leg,
Up against a wrinkled tree
What’s a hound supposed to do
When having urgent need to pee

My years are numbered here times Seven

Biblical in many ways
One day soon in 'Doggy Heaven'
Where they welcome even strays
Some pedigree may be my ‘Chum’
A class above, I’ve always thought
Howling laughter, sounds like fun
A place we can’t be sold or bought

Yet I would stay if having choice

Just to hear 'My Master's Voice'

Richard Gildea

The Forgotten Creatures

For all the things that never were

I mourn.
Denied even suffering
Denied existence.
Love, hate, beauty, horror,
The treads of life's staircase.
They tread none.

Yet who cries a tear for the Unicorn,

The Cockatrice, the dead - unborn?
When He made man
Did He unmake the Basilisk?
What provision for the world of myth.

Now "man is the maker" - so they say,

But why do his creations fade away?
The wonders of a scientific age
Now usurp the province of the mage.
Technology is the new thaumaturgy.
Let technology beware,
Man is fickle; your time will come.

Oh woe for man's creations -

Pegasus beat your downy wings in sorrow.
Man neglected to give you a tomorrow.
What has become of the missing links?
The Cyclops and the sleepy Sphinx.

Man's imagination gave you life on Earth

But when that fails there is no second birth.
Once monsters roamed the land in constant strife.
We made them, yet made for them
No afterlife.

And so returning to the void of that which is not -

They cursed us as a parting shot.
So if there is a justice greater than man's
Might each of us not come to find
That heaven plays host
To the forgotten creatures of your mind
Monsters from the id.


The White Elephant

Once there lived a white elephant in a village in India. The villagers noticed that it didn't look well, so a doctor came to see it and said it was sick and gave the elephant some pills. The elephant got better and when the villagers heard they had a big festival about it.

Simon Woroniecki

Treasured Words

Imperious in gliding stance, upon the lakes reflected pose

Mute of name though not of sound, with neck extension carried proud
Brood of cygnet’s in her wake, as evidence of mating game
A named replacement poets quill, this Pen of feathered kind

Her beau floats by and dips his head, beneath the surface regal style

A Cob with amorous intent, immersed in water treading role
Of family Anatidae, with S shaped carriage tipped in black
Upon an orange ‘bill of sail’, with plumage white adornment full

Distant cousins bow respect and deign safe passage to the shore

Flotilla forms in fond salute, with bearing militaire
A Monarch’s reign they celebrate, all pretenders to the throne
In knowledge sure when on dry land, her whispered words are solid gold

Richard Gildea

Just Looking

Don't stare

Stop looking at me
Impinging on my privacy
Your eyes are chiselling at my face
Avert your gaze
Look into space
How dare you glare at me like that

Oh what the hell

You're just a cat!

Andrew Diamond
Goodmayes Writers

One Voice

The land is dry and barren,

grazed by constant hunger.
The atmosphere is restless
rippling through; infectious.

I feel it in vibration

of the hardened earth.
I hear it from deep throat
calling of communication.

Instinct strong; I know it’s

time to be moving on; for
my calf cannot grow here
and I cannot stay alone.

Herds converge; buffering,

masking the young.
Swollen in number, we
traverse the African plain.

Amid a cacophony of panic,

I arrive at the Mara River.
Murky and flowing fast,
dust rising, choking, beneath
the scorched cloudless sky.

Hemmed in by stamping hooves,

I freeze. Sheer trepidation alone
holds me back from the water.
Bank too steep, drop too vast
only the foolhardy cross here.

A thousand eyes roll; anxious.

Except, for the voracious eyes
of our jaw salivating predators
waiting to twist and thrash, and
tear us apart limb from limb.

Others wait in ambush; skulking

sandy, indistinct in the scrubland
weakness their last vestige of food,
before once more we return on mass
to grace their rain refreshed land.

Survival bites, and I follow the tide

of steaming sinew further down river,
to a less precipitous approach.
The queue is noisy and impatient,
with bodies jostling for supremacy.

Suddenly; I am at the front, knees

buckling in the pressing weight
of Wildebeest and Zebra; the lighter,
Gazelles choosing their own path.
We all know what we have to do.

Mustering my hidden courage

I leap into the swirling melee;
galloping, legs flaying; ignoring
the debris of trampled muscle,
I focus only; on the bank ahead.

Midstream, I lose my footing.

Awash in the promise of death
I kick hard against the current.
The churning silted water;
floods my fully-flared muzzle.

With neck at fullest stretch

and channelling all abject fear
I strain for life-breathing air;
as my scrabbling feet, regain
the grip; of the solid river bed.

Grateful for release, and

with three reaching strides
I make it to the other side,
scrambling onto dry land.

I hear a desperate cry

individual from the rest.
Lost calf to a mother
survived to be reunited.

Joining the exodus

of the cloven snake line
we travel the way of our
ancestors to the new grass.

Moving, transient

following the rains
whilst he; will carve
his own charted path.

Jan Hedger

How Do You Do

Alone within the multitude of cloven hoofed and horned of head

Driven by genetic urge of greener pastures, yonder claimed
Oft' tread journey now begun, the need to venture forth inbred
Companionship of lookalike, with hopeful spirits yet untamed

We set off blissfully remiss of dangers lurking everywhere

Out along the well worn paths, where names of ancestors are carved
Numbers game stands in good stead, when moving forward as a blur
Eagerly we push on pace, no mother's milk so calving halved

Eyes unblinking bearing down on weakness shown within the breed

As flank observers worried stare agitates throughout the fold
Awaiting moment in the sun, driven by some primal need
Which way now should we pursue lest options prove to be so bold

Holding ground dismissed from thought, opponents strength for all to see

Ford to cross way up ahead, a sanctuary of respite kind
Darting here and there in clouds of darkness, pray it cannot be
Whom amongst will take the plunge, to show a lead with strength of mind

Driving down the river bank, cooling as the waters churn

A false security of sense, from roaring lion in our midst
Walls high banked enclose me now and jaws of death await their turn
Will my brothers ever learn, or are we fated to desist

Richard Gildea

Orang Utan - Orphaned

I felt the fear in her muscles

our bond impenetrable
broken only by a bullet.
‘Run my baby, run’.
She thrust me free,
with her dying breath.
‘It is too late for me now
you are the future, run!’
So I ran and could not bear
to look back at her stillness.
I ran into some new arms
arms of caring, of gentleness
arms of non hostility
arms of hope, of humanity
arms of survival
and not extinction,
beyond redemption.

Jan Hedger

Social Structure

Canvas stretching the Savannah

Horizon a softening watercolour
Palette green and granular brown
Acacia bleeds a thorny crown
Paper Mache of hinterlands
Landscape of Africa commands.

Pups emerge from coolness deep

Painted dogs brush eyes from sleep
Socially establishing hierarchy
Nose to nose, lip-licking servility
Greeting, with vibrant sounds
Alpha pair head wild dog hounds.

Family portrait interconnection

Collage of distinct pigmentation
Framed in dawns Scumble Glaze
Belonging in this timeless place
A pack of travelling vagabonds
Of Africa’s vast battlegrounds.

Jan Hedger

Until the Hunt

Pulsating heat on

painted dogs, relentlessly
fingers the hushed shade
of the Kopjes, where they rest
till the shadow of dusk cries.

Jan Hedger

If Only...

They kill to eat, to feed the next generation

Not out of greed or for self gratification
They care for the young, the injured, the sick
Do not abuse, mistreat, just to turn a trick
If only man was as blameless...

Jan Hedger

"Daffy Disney Care"

It disthney bother me, that “Donald” wasth the firsth

Neither am I bugged by “Bunny”, quacking yolksth that teasthe
My plumage though dimorphic, enhancesth me from birth
Black asth night with orange bill and feet that sthplay the kneesthe

They could have drawn a different life, from lead and paper sheetsth

I could have been a Mallard Duck, unto the Manor born
Unlike old “Foghorn Leghorn” ah-sthay, ah-sthay, dosth pleadsth
Or ”Porky Pig’s” new sthidekick, a part I hasth forsthworn

A Pekin Duck with mandible extended, sthure to hinder sthpeech

A vigilante lunatic, who Looney Tunesth dosth play
Desthpicable in every way, no mannersth left to sthketch or teach
“Duck Dodgers” in a future life, when Warner hasth their day

A raft of Ducksth now follow and hang on every listhp

Thisth sthupersthtar of sthcreen and film, in fun no longer pokesth
At friend nor foe of bygone age, whosth wordsth were stharp and cristhp
Sthakespearean in versthe and rhyme, beg Bard for “Now that’sth all dear Folksth”

Richard Gildea

Our Puppy

Long long ago or so its seems

My wife decided she’s like a pet
So we studied all the advertisements
So see if there was a Puppy we could get
For sale there were plenty of Poodles
And Afghan Hounds and Dachshunds too
There were Yorkie’s, & Westie’s & Jack Russell’
Border Collies & Labrador’s to mention but a few
We saw Chi Hua Hua’s & Staffords & Rottweiller’s
It would be hard for a choice to for us to make
But to have a Mastiff or a Greyhound or a Retriever
Might prove to be an expensive mistake
We looked at Boxers & Whippets & Dalmations
A Llasa Apso and a Pinscher as well
How could we choose one from all of these dogs
A decision would be difficult I could tell
Then all of a sudden our minds were made up
When a German Shepherd Dog we espied
And then as tho’ in a dream it happened
The Alsation Puppy came and stood by our side
It didn’t take long to make up our mind
That this was the dog we would choose
We couldn’t go home and leave him behind
And the opportunity we dare not lose
The deal was done and he was now our pet
And as he looked up as we walked to the car
We knew that we’d made the right choice
For we’d studied dogs from near and far
He settled in quite nicely for a Puppy
Although to leave the litter was a shame
But his closeness to us made up for that
We decided Shadow would be his name
He’d do the things that all dogs do
Like sit and offer his paw
Or run off up the garden with a slipper
Even “pee’d on the Kitchen floor
But this was the friend that we wanted
As company when my wife was alone
Although a gentle natured dog was he
Unwanted strangers may have entered a war zone
The years came and went but he still seemed the same
Instinctively knew the times for a walk
And would stride by your side very proudly
Only impatient if you stopped for a talk
As he knew in the park he would always run free
And chase after a ball for evermore
Then after a gentle stroll back home
Would collapse in his basket on the floor
But the years take their toll in this life that we live
And for pets age catches up with them just the same
When no longer will they race to the door for a walk
Or go to the park for game
But still they give comfort to their owners
Ever eager to sit by their side
Still keen to have their head stroked
But their tiredness and pain they seem to hide
For they cannot tell you what ails them
As that is all down to your good friend the Vet
Whose task has been to keep the dog in good health
With kindness that you never forget
So it’s time now to remember those halcyon days
When Shadow was in his prime
And the happiness and joy that came with him
When you met for the very first time
But no-one can take the memories you hold
They are yours for evermore
And remain very special in your life
After Shadow, for the last time, goes through the door

Dennis Shrubshall
5th January 2011


‘Nursery of Giants’ on sun baked sub-Saharan plains

In tangled mass of neck and legs, this shadowed calf inhales of life
Membrane birth of cradle sac, upon Savannah floor drops down
Licked clean away by rasping tongue, no trace of scent for predator

Splayed of stilted legs, in vain filled efforts, valiant made

Mother’s help I seek to gain, when milk is spilt in my own name
To stand erect is end game now, or suffer fate too cruel to tell
Looking up to Parent gaze and down on every other face

One hour doth seem eternity, exposed in only Mater’s shade

Standing finally on high, with neck extension tall and proud
Ossicones with tufts of hair, betray the female genes inside
If smooth of skin, my brother’s line, I would lay claim with sibling pride

Unison of one side gait, unique to members of our race

Propel me forward eating ground with length of even measured pace
Dining at Acacia tree with flat top evolution spread
Leaves and thorns to extricate and shoots that go straight to my head

Agitated look beneath my lashes long, for devils blast of sand

Distant roar that trembles up my elongated neck so tall
Plains of drifting cousins reign, as panic spreads to herds on view
Vacate to pastures green, with fleet of foot and senses primed

Growling felines numbered two, approach with stealth and cat like crawl

Unaware that Mother’s eye is trained, upon their every move
Years of twenty five have passed; she knows somehow just what to do
Retreat to tree where thorns are spread upon the ground in pointed ring

Gathered ‘Neath her bodied girth, ‘twixt legs of four all taut and strong

In well protected trinity, whilst kicking out with one so long
A crunching sound of bone on bone, with 'necking' through the air
Then driving of the message home, by prancing on the stricken foe

A lesson learned to stay close by, until the extra metres gained

Acacia strategy on board, regarding ground of thorns
Aspects of attack just three, when back is kept in line with tree
Heightened preparation of ‘Camelopardalis’, the name refers to me

Richard Gildea

A Poetic Day in the Glory of the Garden

Sing sweet notes, oh pure ebony bird

Awaken the glory of the garden
In the dawn of a summers morning

Catch first rays, oh myriad of flowers

Reflect the glory of the garden
With your rainbow filled display

Billow from capture, oh Egyptian sheets

Fly in the glory of the garden
Release your fresh air of cleanliness

Throw water droplets, oh bubbling fountain

Cool the glory of the garden
In the peacefulness of your pool

Seek the seductive nectar, oh Painted Lady

Pollinate the glory of the garden
As you flit from flower to flower to flower

Purr in rhythmic sound, oh rolling blade

Highlight the glory of the garden
In long swathes of alternating green

Parasol of leaves, oh Walnut tree

Extend the glory of the garden
In jade-speckled sweeping shade

Raise slowly to lips, oh china cups

Relax in the glory of the garden
Complimenting the lightness of sponge

Busy yourself in loyalty, oh worker bee

Penetrating the glory of the garden
In servitude to your reigning queen

Run home from school, oh children three

Revel in the glory of the garden
In tee-shirt, shorts and cotton dresses

Swoop in lightness, oh glossy swallow

Feast on the glory of the garden
With tail streaming agility

Fall sweet and soft, oh shower of rain

Refresh the glory of the garden
With purity of glistening silver

Sneak cautiously, oh red russet creature

Visitor to the glory of the garden
Relish the scattering hand of kindness

Snuffle the earth, oh spiny urchin

Feeding from the glory of the garden
On a plethora of invertebrates

Glide silently, oh ghostly bird

Across the glory of the garden
In just a whisper of a breath

Hush now, oh sweet fragrances

Dream in the glory of the garden
Embrace the warmth of a summer’s night

Jan Hedger

A Shetland Summer

The gannet

the water
like a missile
the reflection.

The otter

the water
like a prow
the reflection.

The whale

erupts from
the water
like a volcano
the reflection.

The watcher

stands by
the water
like a statue
the reflection.

Jan Hedger

Street Collection

I didn’t mean to be sick! I tried hard not too, but with the rockin’ and rollin’ – twists and turns, I couldn’t help it.

Please take me next.
I don’t want to be the last dog in the van.

I know I look a frightful mess, but I’ve been sleeping rough you see. My coats all matted and one eye’s closed up.

Please take me next.
I don’t want to be the last dog in the van.

I can hear you talking, saying ‘we’ll leave him till the end, looks a bit of a brute; it’ll take two of us I expect.

Please take me next.
I don’t want to be the last dog in the van.

I’m not a brute! I’m big but soft in nature. It was the kick in the face that misshapen my teeth.

Please take me next.
I don’t want to be the last dog in the van.

It’s not really growling with anger, it’s communicating my fear. I’ve been cruelly treated, terribly.

Please take me next.
I don’t want to be the last dog in the van.

They told me this would happen, the other strays on the street.

Gave me some advice, ‘don’t put up a fight.
Ask to be taken next,
You don’t want to be the last dog in the van.’

You keep coming and going and ignoring me! Dogs are leaving one by one. Just me, and little Scruffy left.

Please take me next.
I don’t want to be the last dog in the van.

What’s this? Scruffy is snapping and snarling! Not like him. ‘Alright fella, calm down, we’ll leave you a while.

You can’t be next.
You’ll have to be the last dog in the van.

A hand frees the catch, quietly reaches in, so gentle I lick it. ‘Are you

okay with him?’ ‘Yes I’m fine; he’s just a teddy bear.’
I’m going to be next!
I won’t be the last dog in the van.

Scruffy winks as I pass his cage, with a knowing doggy look. He did it for me! He knew it was my first time.

He’s used to being next.
And not the last dog in the van.

Jan Hedger


Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: Great last runners in the Animal Kingdom - had fun reading them - well done all!

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: Garet - smashing piece of writing - I so loved it - will have to re-read it is such fun!
Marie - A touch of the Alfred Hitchcock, I fear! Lol

Your Name: Marie Neumann

Your Comment: Andrew Diamond. Just looking. When your poem will get published I would like to have a copy. I have a cat just like that. Marie

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: Great trio Mark - you really know how to 'capture' your subject!

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: What an interesting piece Marie - I love it!

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: A beautiful profound little piece of writing Pauline!

Your Name: Ashley Jordan

Your Comment: It's come to my attention (thanks Jan) that not all comments being submitted are coming through to me or appearing on the website. I have added a couple of new links - To leave a comment Click Here - at the top and bottom of the comments section.  These links will take you to http://www.mycontactform.com/hosted/form.php?formid=294140. and comments left here will appear on the website as soon as I get them, usually within a few hours.  

Your Name: Richard Gildea

Your Comment: Jan Hedger – Billy the Bat
Hello Jan, A most enjoyable read. Do all acroBATS sleep upside down? :)  Count Alucard’s Budgies are remarkable creatures in many ways, but I have yet to hear them laugh. Apart from their sonic and aerial abilities they have launched many a Movie career, such as ‘Christopher Lee’, ‘The Caped Crusader Batman’ and ‘Bela Lugosi’ (who somehow resembled one). They also inspired an 'Operetta' in the form of ‘Die Fledermaus’. I live quite close to Bram Stoker’s London abode and many of the locals
drop Garlic and Crucifixes as they walk by :) We must all be Batty.   Supersonic ‘Boom Boom’ for this one my dear friend.
God Bless, Richard

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: I agree Ash! Such powerful words expressed by Zahida! Diverse and brilliant for it! Jan

Your Name: Ashley Jordan

Your Comment: Wow Zahida - what an interesting take on this month's challenge.  'Territory' would have been equally at home in a least three of the previous month's themes!  Very clever :-) 

Your Name: Ashley Jordan

Your Comment: Well done Simon - It is always exciting when someone enters the Writing Challenge for the first time - and I am especially chuffed to read your work :-)  It's been a very long time coming! You should feel really proud of yourself...

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: You have done it again Richard - spoke of something from my very own heart! We are kindred spirits it seems - if no-one minds I shall re- post my poem on a similiar theme - originally posted in Compulsion but equally at home here in Animal Kingdom.

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: Thanks Richard - this always stuck with me in my days as a RSPCA kennelmaid and when I became a poet - one day I wrote it - I did always feel for the last dog in the van!  Glad you posted your Disney piece on here - it deserves to be shared!
I absolutely love your Overview! So perceptive and visual - a life 'caught' in your words - One to copy if okay to put in my favourites pile - I have adored wildlife for years and this encapsulates it so much - I shall post my 'Animal Kingdom' poems that were printed on the 2011 GROW calendar - follow this link to see the calendar in full - just scroll down http://grow.btck.co.uk/GROW%20Publications - God bless you and all God's creatures xx

Your Name: Jan Hedger

Your Comment: Captured a beloved pet beautifully Dennis - they mean so much, I know mine did.

Your Name: Richard Gildea

Your Comment: Street Collection - Jan Hedger
Hello Jan,  How lovely reading from the aspect of a mistreated and abandoned stray. Showing us just how "Street Wise" they become out of necessity. The pitying plea falling on 'deaf ears' of humankind. Kindness shown by way of example from one of their own, humanity is alive and well in the "Animal Kingdom" 'we have much to learn'. I loved it my dear friend. 

God Bless Jan - Richard


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