To read the latest issue, click 'Issues by year' in the menu above

Sprinhare (small rodent) looking right

Chris O’Carroll: Ultraviolet Light Verse

Vivid biofluorescence discovered in the
nocturnal Springhare –

These springhares are grey or brown rodents,
Agile jumpers like small kangaroos.
Now it turns out black light on a springhare
Makes it glow in pink/reddish/orange hues.

Platypuses fluoresce, and echidnas,
An array of marsupials, too,
But it wasn’t a skill known to mammals
In clan springhare, so far as we knew.

The power of biofluorescence
May be much wider-spread than we’d reckoned.
Other species who glow in the dark
Could swim into our ken any second.

I once grooved on Pink Floyd and their light shows.
Now these critters can stand me in lieu.
I’ll just lay in some UV equipment
For a trippy exotic pet zoo.

ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Kathy & Tony Peyser: Doberman Pinscher

This breed has such presence, one senses
They’re not sit-around-the-yard dogs.
Yes, they’re loyal companions but they’re
Also truly astonishing guard dogs.

When they have their ears docked, they
Don’t ever look at all meek:
They’re evil Nazi generals with monocles
And a scar along one cheek.

But when their ears aren’t cropped and their
Tails aren’t docked, with such speed
The distinctive Doberman will suddenly seem
To be this entirely different breed.

You’ll find yourself wondering where that
Dog with the vicious bark went –
They’re disguised, like those glasses that
Turned Superman into Clark Kent.

 ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Sandi Christie :The Cat from Ipanema

Orange, and tan, and kind of fuzzy,
The cat from the Humane Society
Went walking ‘cross my countertops again.

Yell his name and he’ll ignore you,
His countenance will then implore you
To turn the faucet on for him again.

Ooh, my guy wants to evict him.
Ooh, but I want to forgive him.
Ooh, he sits back on his hind limbs,
And he cares not a bit what you think,
He will get a drink from the sink.

Orange and tan, and kind of fuzzy,
The cat from the Humane Society
Went walking ‘cross the kitchen floor again.

His tail goes swish,
He looks in his dish,
But he doesn’t drink.
No, he just doesn’t drink.
He just looks at me.

ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Alan Millichip: The Garden Guest

A visit by chance from a migrant,
Blown in on a westerly breeze;
Turned into a magnet for twitchers,
And a moment the locals could seize.

They thought of the increase in business,
An influx of people would bring;
The pub, and the shop and the baker,
And their tills as they all went ker-CHING!

But when it had fed and was rested,
It flew onwards with never a care
Leaving flowers badly trampled and flattened ,
A box ticked with stories to share.

So much for the plans of quick profit,
That weekend away put on hold;
The hopes that arrived with a flutter,
More productive of feathers than gold.

 ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Martin Elster: Octopus Opus Lipogram

Octopus, you boast a brain
in skull and arms. You mimic rocks,
coral, or plants on briny stalks.
Star of your shadowy domain,

your wily skin can look prismatic
as a Crayola crayon kit.
Piranha coming!—Simply split
your murky nook, as acrobatic

as a gymnast, firing ink
in a rapid rush of H2O!
A wiz at locomotion, a pro
at cryptic colouring, do you think

your myriad of minds surpass
my own? “Without a doubt! A lot!”
you say, as you slip through a tiny slot
and smirk as you cling to aquarium glass.

 ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Silverfish (insect facing diagonall up and left

Paul Willis: Silverfish

The silverfish crawls through my book
and feasts upon the spine,
which crumbles, and the pages fall –
this book that once was mine.

If paper, glue, and scissors be
the game he loves to play,
in search of glue to sniff he scissors
paper into hay.

Last night I saw him scuttling out
of slime that coats the drain,
a denizen who plumbs the depths
where hair and mucus reign.

I turned the faucet on full blast
and flushed him to his lair,
that place where lack of words and leaves
will plunge him to despair.

My library is safe for now –
except for all his cousins
who secretly invade each chapter
by the dirty dozens.

O silverfish, O silverfish,
I would you changed your diet!
My only solace is, at least,
you do your work in quiet.

  See NEWS

 ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Martin Parker: Chien Gastronome

Pet Passports help my canine buddy
With his comprehensive study
Of just which types of foreign food'll
Most excite a Labradoodle.
Each trip to Europe's an excuse
To turn his gourmet yearnings loose
Upon the unsuspecting bits
Of every Paolo, Pierre and Fritz
Laid lightly grilled in spatchcocked ranks
Of garlic flavoured rumps and shanks,
Europe's anglophobe King Kongs
Like Smithfield carcasses in thongs,
Inviting him to chomp, alone,
Les fruits des plages de l'Eurozone;
And prove the EU is where most men
Taste better than our British postmen.

ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Richard Fleming: The Quagga

Alas the Quagga is extinct
and Earth’s become a poorer place.
Once it stood tall, then Nature blinked
and so it vanished without trace.
Half horse, half zebra, a fine mess:
a laughing-stock, it galloped free,
inelegant, without finesse,
a quadruped absurdity.
It was a most unlovely beast
with fetid breath and raucous bray.
The last one, sadly, is deceased
because Fate voted nay not neigh.

ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Bruce McGuffin: The Crocodile

While floating gently in the Nile
The crocodile displays a smile
That says "I think I'll stay a while
And watch for walkers on the bank.
I hope I'll see a toothsome flank
To pull in with a mighty yank.
Or maybe I'll just watch them all
To see if anyone should fall
And hit the water in a sprawl”!
The croc, a beast of ill repute,
Some say a cruel, voracious brute,
Contends it lurks there to recruit
New dinner guests. The croc extends
Its warm regards and recommends
Surprise attacks for making friends.

ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Brian S. Lee: A Voyage Too Many

A fisherman checked his lobster pots
But strayed too far from the safest spots:
A whale whose plates were tired of plankton
Gulped a big titbit, but had not banked on
Engulfing a lobsterman morsel in
Untuckable under his dorsal fin.

Swifter than Jonah he spat him out,
Feet, ankles, knees, ribs, chin and snout:
His ordered entrance, torso first
Then hips and shanks, thus neatly reversed
When forth he cannoned undigested
The gullet’s width not even tested.

No foreign object more destructive
Or fake-newsed media disruptive,
Back-firing peristaltic motion
Precipitated him in ocean
And beached him painfully ashore
Whence such container ships he’ll seek no more.
They say you shouldn’t look a horse,
A gift-horse, in the mouth. Of course
A whale’s, close up, may seem inviting,
But don’t go too soon tonsil-sighting
Down the wet pharyngeal causeway,
A minnow swimming in the jaws’ way,

For those who enter that cathedral door
Of instantaneous ejection can’t be sure,
Because despite your bulk and diving-suit
You may seem palatable to the brute,
Who doesn’t know his passageway’s too small
To squeeze you down it cylinders and all.

ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ    ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ     ᴥ

Karen Petersen: Webster

Webster the big Persian cat
comes in from outside,
cries rasping like an eagle’s
fur on end
dainty toes wet.

His almond search-light eyes
gaze at me reproachfully.
It’s starting to rain
hard enough to bow the heads of the daffodils
and he couldn’t get in.

Tail like a question mark
thumping against my legs,
Webster waits for a cuddle
as the storm gathers strength,
rain tapping on the windows.

Blue grey Persian cat looking straight ahead