2 Pangolin Poems

Am breaking a long silence by returning to one of my favourite subjects: the Pangolin, with (as the title suggests)— two poems—one that came to me as I re-read H.G. Wells The War of the Worlds (picturing the Martians with their heat rays and smoke as some kind of eco-satire on us) and another about a video of a Pangolin swimming across a pool (which I can no longer find). Despite, the title of the second poem, Pangolins are actually surprisingly good swimmers— and are often found living near water. Hope you find these interesting…

Pangolin Post-Apocalyptic

For you, it’s already happened, Chinese Pangolin,
life gone like a parody of War of the Worlds
and the forest turned hostile as the surface of an alien planet
you pick your steady way across,
sipping the air’s dank underbelly for the acrid itch
of anthropos, the hot wicks of their snares
or the gavel barks of their hounds, the rasp of a shovel, biting deep.
You could not find a mate this year— but it does not matter.
There are too many ants in the loam for you to eat alone
and you’re getting skittish about your place in this dwelling
that foams like a stream rapidly emptying.
You reason: something abstracted and a loss of morale,
a grizzled veteran though you’d be the last to know it,
wrapping yourself round lianas like the longhand for ‘persecution’
or the bark at the end of an auction turned unexpectedly plaintive:
‘going, going: gone’, blotted out, poor chattel.

Not his first choice

he skitters through reeds galumphs
face first into the tarry breach
of a tropical pond

Ceramic glitch

he spiders his way across
the leafy halitosis of last year’s
forest moult

Snorkle snout held up

he casts us a look of dignity
assaulted our tragic hero
in farcical circumstances

With armbands for lungs

a terracotta army at his back
as he rejects the covet-swallow
common to all water


up the bank into generous trees
to bandage himself round bark
whorled in scale self-rustle and timorous hiss


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