POETRY & PROSE
All Rhyme, No Reason: The not-quite extinct limericks that underscore the decline of endangered species
A poetry and prose collection by Ian Moll explores the decline of some of the world’s extinct and most endangered species at the hands of humanity.
Greedy explorers ‘discovered’ the East
Saw only fowls for their voyage-end feast
Rape the world their only thought
This poor bird counted for nought!
Do we go on till all species have ceased?
A zebra? A horse? A donkey? A mule?
This mammal they say defied every rule
Kwagga’s its name
Of wide Khoisan fame
Wiped out for meat — colonial fool!
Red Colobus Monkey
To be or not to be, was that Hamlet’s question?
Or a Colobus on the edge of extinction?
Fifty years past we thought it gone
2 0 1 5, we snapped just one
Enough to shuffle off this mortal destruction?
A tight, tight ball of scales on a bubble
Armour that puts this creature in trouble
Why hack off its skin?
It’s not medicine!
A body bloodied, left in the rubble
A young rhino wobbled, feeling forlorn
He kind of wished he had never been born
He’d heard the approach
Of men on the poach
All he could think was the loss of a horn
“A curly horse upside down in the sea”
That was my daughter, enraptured, at three
Why did I tell her, right there and then
Her little horse a victim of Men?
I could have spared her such cruelty
West Coast Rock Lobster
These ‘kreef’ we haul from their sea, unjustly
Their bright red shells, so stunningly crusty
Their unfortunate fate
To end up on a plate
Just their heads in a bin going musty
The big fellas had a whale of a time
Till, from the West, came the worst kind of crime
A huge, dark, seething ship
Meat, bones, blubber its trip
Took them out, forever, much before prime
Hardly macho, this shark, it hides in the deep
It had best keep still without one little peep
Many want its fin for a snack
They cut it off, throw the shark back
This is slaughter, cruel, immoral, even cheap
Waddle waddle, bump bump, shuffle shuffle
This is a bird whose feathers don’t ruffle
But then catch them we can
They end up in a pan
To save this bird is surely a scuffle
Bald, dirty feathers, as ugly as sin
What a pickle our Cape Vulture is in
Please don’t think it kills cos it’s bad
It eats just dead bits to be had
So to kill it off is surely no win
Cape Wild Dog
Savage packs of dogs (worse than others, by far)
Bite slow holes as their dinner drops to the tar
But this is what nature’s about
We cannot but allow their rout
For to ignore this would be just about par
Who’s heard of the Roan, one might enquire?
A sighting so rare kindles desire
We’ve killed it for sport
Sad fact is its chances are quite dire
Its horns are like crescents of steel and of light
The Sable is all beauty and four-legged might
Numbers though are just too thin
We’ve shot, poached, fenced it in
Now we worry about the beast in its plight!
Tiger, tiger, burning bright —
In a forest of some plight
When bulldozers and chainsaws outnumber the trees
Profits and losses bring our nature to its knees
Tiger will give up the fight
In a world with more fluffy play pandas right now
Than the real live ones that our conservings allow
It is worth just the thought
That her safety’s not bought
But fought for, and shouted for, with constant know-how
Priceless white hide, tendons, meat, fat and bones
Once trapped reasonably for Inuit homes
Our ice caps are melting
And killers not dwindling
Will this rare bear be among the unknowns?
Vibrant feathers that fluff out your big head
But please understand, the donor’s near dead
Fashion can be the death of a bird
Such human display surely absurd
Why do you do it, you pompous biped?
From eggy or tummy? Duck or beaver or fish?
A platypus is conceptually quite squeamish
But because it don’t fit
Means not one little bit
That we do not protect it with every last wish
We named this fox for a true, smart primate
Who understood well that species to date
Adapt, and adapt, only so far
No creature survives this disaster
So, this fox, it seems, may not procreate
That this gentle, giant ape of the East
Should be thought of as an edible beast
Dismembered at table?
A thought unthinkable
Yet we treat it as a gorge ourselves feast
Gentle giants that must hide in order to last
In the deep green forests of our ancestral past
In movies and books, we fear them so
But truth be told, we’re the killers, no?
As trees die and get scarce, so they will too, and fast
Chimpanzee (pan troglodyte)
The chimpanzee and me, we see easily
Are as close as are cousins genetically
Not just an ape in a city
And a dwindling ape in a tree
But a mirror of the animal in you and in me
Only two kinds of ape dig sex for the sake
One’s the Bonobo, then a guess you’ll make
Our kin and kind we kill and eat —
A ‘delicacy’ called ‘bushmeat’?
Oh what kind of lust we set out to slake!
It slashes and burns, it hunts and spews smoke
As animal, it’s a bit of a joke
How to get in its head
That its species looks dead?
Best that it soon be extinct with a choke? DM/ ML
Ian Moll is a retired member of the School of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand. His PhD was in cognitive science and education from the University of Geneva. During his career, he has been a teacher, a trade unionist, a government bureaucrat, an NGO researcher, visiting professor at the Universities of Makarere and Witwatersrand, and lecturer in educational theory, psychology of education, and online instructional design. His latest publication is “The myth of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, Theoria, 68 (167), 1-38.