Porpoise news

Porpoises1 (4)


A poem I wrote about porpoises has appeared in a book called When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors – People and wildlife working it out in California.

I guess the advantage of writing poems about porpoises is you can quickly corner the market.

Written by Beth Pratt-Bergstrom of the National Wildlife Federation, the book tells stories about humans and animals living in various states of harmony – including foxes on the Facebook campus in Silicon Valley, a mountain lion called P-22 who lives in the middle of Los Angeles, and the porpoises who returned to San Francisco Bay in 2007 after a 65-year absence. Good for them.

The book is available here and all proceeds go to the National Wildlife Federation. 

Porpoise poem


With the news that five porpoises have been sighted far up the Thames following the recent storm surge, I thought I’d welcome them with this poem that I wrote a while ago. It’s taken from a collection called Songs for Animals which we plan to produce in book form one day, but we have no idea when.


I asked a pair of porpoises
what the purpoise of a porpoise is –
and whether dolphins are like porpoises
to all intents and purpoises?

‘How dare you!’ said the porpoises,
storming off to sea.
It was strange to have cross porpoises
talking at me.

First song of the bird


First song of the bird

This song is here to say
I made it through the night.
I made it to the precious light of day.

This song is here to say
that I am still all right.
The night is gone and now it's time to play.

For Robin Martin Asbury
, born 23 February 2011.

Year of the Tiger


Tiger, tiger, burning bright,
Which animal set you alight?
Was it that antelope over there
With a book of matches and a petrol can?

Happy Chinese New Year to one and all. (The drawing is taken from here.)

Mallard confusion


On an icy morning I met a mallard,
wondering what had made the canal hard.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “It’s just the winter –
it makes the water hard to get inter.”


Here's another very lightweight offering from the collection that will one day become Songs for Animals. This one is about hedgehogs.


Hedgehogs like to hog a hedge –
hence the 'hog' in 'hedgehog'.

Told you it was lightweight.

I'm publishing it now having realised something disturbing, which is that comedian Dan Antopolski won an award for best joke at this year's Edinburgh Fringe for a joke very similar in spirit to the poem:

Hedgehogs – why can't they just share the hedge?

An excellent joke, but mine scans so it's probably better.

Animal queries

Still working on ways to get Songs for Animals out into the world.* In the meantime, here's a poem that raises more questions than it answers.

Animal queries

Can a cow be bullish?
Can a snail be sluggish?
Can a bird be batty?
Can a dog be catty?

Can a sheep be hammy?
Can a crab be clammy?
Can you rat on a mouse?
Can you pigeonhole grouse?

Can you scapegoat a moose?
Can you duck a goose?
Can you badger a goat?
Can you frogmarch a stoat?

Can you ape a baboon?
Can you hog a raccoon?
Can a trout chicken out?
Can a crow lark about?

Can you toady to a frog?
Can you outfox a dog?
Can a bull be cowed?
Is any of this allowed?

*Let me know if you're currently sleeping with the children's editor of Faber.

Lullaby for a dormouse

Thought I’d send this sleepy little poem into the world to mark the news that the decline in population of the dormouse is apparently slowing. It’s taken from Songs for Animals, a collection that we’re aiming to produce in book form some time within the next year. Speaking of which, if you know any good animal illustrators who might enjoy a project like this, let us know.

Lullaby for a dormouse

It’s time to go to sleep now.
The sun is up and the day is young,
but it’s time to go to sleep now.

The clouds are heavy with snow.
A hollow will be your winter home
in the roots of the hazel tree.

Let winter come and have his time –
it’s time to sleep and dream.
The ground will soon be soft with snow.

This summer was the happiest one –
so many little things to be done.
But it’s time to go to sleep now.

The world will wait and winter pass,
the way that winters always do.
Spring will come and make things new.

But it’s time to go to sleep now.
The sun is up and the day is young
and it’s time to go to sleep now.

Songs for Animals #3

One of our new year’s resolutions is to get Songs for Animals printed up in some shape or form. Here’s another one to be going on with.


– Is that a kittiwake over there?
– No it's a chuffin' puffin!

– It looks more like a tern, to be fair.
– It's not. It's a chuffin' puffin!

– Maybe a rock dove or guillemot?
– I said it's a chuffin' puffin!

– Hang on, it's a puffin! What a good spot!
– Don't mention it. It was nuffin.