Welcome to Eureka Street

back to site

Non-ants and animal whimdom


Selected poems


ants don’t sleep
elephants weep
presidents creep
oolong teas steep

and we observe

dictators serve
goosekillers swerve
ignorance hits curve
art shows verve
and we obsess

rabbits stress
tortoises press
paedophiles confess
corporations bless
and we object

eagles expect
bears reject
judges neglect
raiders protect
and we obdure

classes with fixed view
certainties de jour
pick your own führer
leave cultures to rue
as non-ants sleep

Animal whimdom

Flighty as a songbird, a starling, crow or eagle,
oniscine, sturnine, corvine or aquiline;
dogged as a wolf, a fox or a beagle,
lupine, vulpine or plain old canine;
homo sapiens come in all shapes and sizes –
their manner, parts, in sum, bearing no great surprises.

Haughty as a peacock, or expectorating camel
pavonine and cameline, that one or two-humped mammal;
proud as kingly lion, or she-bear mid-rampage,
leonine and ursine, or timid sheep
and grouse ovine and tetraonine.

Humans slake their thirsts like the deer cervine
and cow bovine, enjoying o’er-heaped desserts
like the sow porcine and goose anserine.

Quick as wasp or mongoose, vespine or herpestine.
Deadly as snake or panther, anguine or big arse feline.

You’ll meet a liquid woman, swim past an aquatic man
whose languid depths and epiphets suggest a timeless span.
Like carp and teeming fish, cyprine and piscine
they’ll descend with dexterous swish to shoals you can’t divine.

They’re preyed upon by folks who’ll swoop on them like fowl –
gull laridine, duck anatine; exponents of the Dão.

And then there are iconoclasts, like ostrich and kangaroo
struthionine and macropine – try guessing where and what they’ll do.
Fight or flight as they re-make the world or their worldview;
like hare leporine or horse equine their speed can rescue or undo
if predators should chart their course and catch them in a jagged turn.
Humans may present remorse but watch and see if they will spurn
the chance for self-promotion or advancement of their cause.
A’feared of animal savagery wild? Fey humans exceed their roars.



xxxxxBarry Gittins is a communication and research consultant for the Salvation Army who has written fo Inside HistoryCrosslightThe Transit LoungeChanging Attitude Australia and The Rubicon.

Topic tags: poetry, ants, animal, whimdom



submit a comment

Existing comments

There's lots of words in Animal whimdom I'll have to find out about. Wonderful poem, thank you. D H Lawrence's "Birds, Beasts and Flowers" is considered by many to be his best poetry.

Pam | 24 July 2017  

Made my day. Thanks.

Peter Goers | 25 July 2017  

Similar Articles

Spider music

  • Chris Jackson
  • 17 July 2017

I am, of course, a spider: my obstinacy, a viola; my gossamer back-and-forthing, woven ruminations of a violin. Watch me, busy always to continue a spider's life. All things love the little kingdom they inherit. This is home, intricate with fetched fidget, this scratchy bow-flight is a busy cello urging me to tracery, all tossed about in winds of orchestra.


Finding the high way

  • Andrew Hamilton
  • 26 July 2017

In our society ethical questions such as those to do with marriage, crime and punishment, the beginnings and endings of life, and freedom of speech are often highway issues. Protagonists establish in advance the right way to go, keep their foot down and their eyes on the road without noticing the terrain the highway traverses. Road signs indicating another destinations or alternative routes are ignored and towns by-passed. Certainty is gained; understanding of country is sacrificed.