John Sandilands


Animal poems

Date published: various
Publisher: not published

John had his light moments—and his lighter moments.  This animal alphabet, just done for fun at odd times, shows an Edward Lear-type mischievousness at work.


Aaron the Aardvark, not naturally vain
Kept regarding his profile again and again.
What, he would wonder, turning this way and that,
If his nose were more elegant, less droopy and fat?
Would cosmetic surgery, a nip here and there
Make him look much less mournful, not to say debonair?

On reflection, however, he decided best not,
There’s be less aardvark in keeping the nose that he’d got.


BERYL, a Bat with a sensitive ear
Often wished she could cut out some things she could hear.
The family rows of the couple next door,
The bat up above dropping his boots on the floor,
Not to mention the stuff from much further away
Like a Jumbo descending at JFK..
The cacophony sometimes made home life a hell,
“Thank heavens,” sighed Beryl, “I don’t see so well.”


CONNIE the Cod-fish, a real fashion freak,
Was irresistibly drawn to anything chic.
Like the day she read in a smart magazine
That cod could look lovely with touches of green.
Parsley, she read, eyes glued to the page,
With a simple white sauce was this season’s rage.
Dreamily Connie imagined the scene –
Herself decked out in the ‘new white and green’.
A mouth-watering sight for her ravenous date,
She’d not swallowed the fact she’d be served on a plate ..


DERMOT the Dragonfly
Not troubled by weight,
Kept piling up
The food on his plate.
Accumulations of protein and carbohydrate
Wrecked his aerodynamics
And cemented his fate.


EDWARD, an Elephant with a musical ear
Would trumpet all day but draw nobody near.
He pondered a lot on this lack of a crowd,
Was he blowing off-key, or perhaps much too loud?
Would it, he wondered, pack ‘em all in
If he blew out his trumped and played violin?
But the problem persisted – while crowds remained thin –
Of tucking the instrument under his chin.


FENELLA the Friesian, a miserable cow
Was always embroiled in some sort of row.
At night when the herd were at home in their shed
She’d pick somebody up on something they’d said.
Sarcastic put-downs, rejoinders and quips
Flowed off her tongue and fell from her lips.
She’d maintain this invective until a late hour
Putting all in a moo
And turning their milk sour.


Gareth the Goldfish, making use of his bowl,
Swam round the Equator and not Pole to Pole.
Alas, a companion introduced as his bride,
Caused great consternation – she swam side to side.
But as she and Gareth reached the end of their tether –
They went for counselling –
Now they swim round together.



HEINRICH, a Hamster of German descent
Had a rigid routine wherever he went.
Early to rise at dawn’s rosy peep,
He’d blink once or twice
Then go straight back to sleep.




Ian Iguana, a gluttonous lizard,
Got a packet of biscuits stuck fast in his gizzard.
This unwelcome obstruction lodged in the way
Of all he intended to eat on that day.
A couple of pizzas were part of the plan
With a big shepherd’s pie and an apricot flat –
All that just for lunch, it’s important to say
With tea, dinner and supper still on the way.
The biccies that caused this reptile’s setback
Were merely perceived as a mid-morning snack!


JEFFREY the Jackal seemed one of those chaps
Who could settle to nothing, just pick up scraps
Of employment that lasted for hours or a day
A bit here and there and then he’d away
As the pub and the betting shop led him astray.
“A proper old scrounger,” you’d hear housewives say
Until their lavvies were blocked and their husbands away.
Or their fuses went phut or a banister broke
That was the moment they’d send for a bloke
Who could fix all that stuff with a grin and a joke.
And with none of the bluster an ‘expert’ parades –
Jeffrey, you see, was a jackal of all trades.



KENNY the Kinkajou, when out on the ale
Was always well pleased with his prehensile tail.
Equally handy for mopping up beer
Or if stuck near a juke-box, for blocking one ear.
In fact out for a laugh and to sink a few jars
You just couldn’t beat it for hanging round bars.


LOIS the Lemming was easily lead –
“Shouldn’t run with the crowd,” her school report said.
Imagine the worry for poor Mum and Dad
That she’d hang out with a gang and do something bad.
But all efforts to guide her turned out a flop –
As one dreadful day she went over the top..




Muriel the Musquash, a very good swimmer
Often thought she’d like to be quite a lot slimmer.
Though aquatic rodents shouldn’t really be teeny
Instead of a one-piece she’d wear a bikini –
A musquash bikini, next best thing to mink
Which would catch every eye on her way to the drink.

But what she didn’t consider was, looking a peach
She’d be ogled by all the rats on the beach.


Dame NELLIE the Nightingale, a diva of note
Woke up one day with an awful sore throat.
“What on earth shall I do?” she croaked to her mate,
I’m signed up tonight on a big singing date.
The tickets are sold and the orchestra’s booked,
If I duck out of this, that’s my goose really cooked.”
She tried cod liver oil and a Fisherman’s Friend
And some pastilles and linctus without seeing an end
To the setback a nightingale always most fears,
Which is to sound off one night like a van changing gears.
As showtime approached things looked utterly dire
With Nellie no nearer night’s heavenly choir.
But with darkness approaching her mate grabbed his coat –
“I’m off to the doc’s and I’ll be back with a note!”



OLLIE, a typical Orang-Utan
Belonged to the species thought closest to Man.
This meant he was lazy, inclined to deceit
And whistling after young girls in the street.
It meant that his room was always a mess
With his things strewn about ‘cos he couldn’t care less.
Skateboard and trainers were all in a heap
With CDs full blast so no-one could sleep.
His Mum often thought that he might be less crass
If the species were more like some nice tidy lass.



PETER the Puma, while running about
Felt a pain in his leg he thought might be gout.
A call to his doctor: “It’s gout without doubt.
Spend a week with your leg up
Port and pheasant are out.”


Posh QUENTIN the Quagga thought it terribly coarse
That a breed so distinctive should be linked to the horse.
“Show me a horse,” he’d say, “that in any way
Has a striped head and neck and I’ll willingly pay
A fiver a stripe to whoever succeeds
In tying together the separate breeds.
It’s all a matter of breeding,” he’d go on to aver
And well-bred quaggas would surely concur.
Except, once again, Mother Nature has blinked
And every last quagga’s now sadly extinct.




Plump RUPERT the Roebuck, whiling away
The post-prandial hours of a typical day,
Unwisely allowed his attention to stray
From a large clump of lion-grass not far away.
A growl and a roar and the flash of a mane –
Now Rupert will never be whiling again.


SELWYN the Salmon’s imaginative leap
Was to think about fish-cakes without losing sleep.
A concept at which even red salmon pales
Was it really, he wondered, like rarebits and Wales,
A mere marketing ploy linking ‘tatoes and fish,
Not a form of mash murder, but the name of a dish?
Could the term, long-established, be used just as well
For a line of confectionery Selwyn could sell
Fairy cakes, Battenbergs, marzipan loaves
Sold in smart little bakeries in inlets and coves.
Or wherever fish gather round reefs, rocks and pools
In large ‘glomerations, especially schools.
His take on fish-cakes was such a success
That Selwyn became a tycoon, more or less,
Sufficiently moneyed to cruise half round the earth
Back to one special river – the place of his birth.


TRISTRAM the Tortoise, not one to hurry
Went out one day for a takeaway curry.
One his way there he dawdled and looked in the shops
And on the way back he was stopped by the cops
For kerb-crawling, loitering and licking his chops.
And when he got home he was put on the spot
Because even the vindaloo was no longer hot.


UNA, an Urchin, Sea-Urchin that is,
Was incredibly scruffy, her hair in a frizz.
Her trainers real grubby, her cap wrong way round.
Her parents despaired that a mate could be found
For a maiden so messy and who caused such distress
A mollusc with attitude, they had to confess.
Not so, thought a photog from a smart magazine
Assigned to a spread on the whole seashore scene.
“That is a look” he cried, “all will adore ..”
Now top model Una pulls guys by the score.


VERNON the Viper, a serpent with style,
Got fed up with crawling for mile after mile.
This form of progression seemed old-fashioned and slow,
And image-wise hardly the right way to go.
How much quicker, he thought, and better by far
To swish back and forth in a smart motor car.
If you want that to happen, said a voice in his head
You’d better become a vindscreen viper instead


WALLACE the Wildebeeste wanly perceived
Though his birthday had come no gifts he’d received.
No iota of pleasure from party or feast
Or even a call from a girl wildebeeste.

X FOR ??

X-CUSE me for taking an easy way out
But creatures starting with X, well, there’s not much about.
There may be a fish in the ocean’s vast deeps
One of the ugly ones that give you the creeps.
Or one could invent a fabulous beast
Found in the Arctic, or parts of the East.
Or one can turn to the dictionary’s page –
Xylophagous insects? Hardly the rage!
Bugs feeding on wood somehow don’t engage
The muse of a poet at this alphabetical stage.


YOLANDA the Yak would stop for a chat
In any part of Mongolia she happened to be at.
Strangers got buttonholed, travellers stopped
As she nattered and nattered until their ears popped.
With a Mongolian precipice yawning in back
They’d long to retreat from that yak, yak, yak, yak.


ZACHARIAH the Zebra was easy to see
While making his way from A over to B.
With black and white stripes from his nose to his tail
His visibility factor scarcely could fail.
But motorists were still pretty much at a loss
When a beast of this stripe chose a zebra to cross.


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List of John Sandilands articles

John Sandilands

John Sandilands Articles

  1. Obituary, March 2004 >>
  2. Introduction to Articles >>
  3. Article2 >>
  4. When the cure is sun, sea and mud >>
  5. Interview with Ava Gardner >>
  6. Interview with Dustin Hoffman, Los Angeles Times, 1968 >>
  7. Fiji >>
  8. Patrick Moore >>
  9. Mr Pastry >>
  10. Interview with Jane Fonda >>
  11. letters to and from John to editors >>
  12. Ballooning >>
  13. The Toad Cross Code >>
  14. Peter Sellers; that is the problem >>
  15. In bed with John Sandilands plus Jilly Cooper, Zandra Rhodes and Peter Cook >>
  16. Know the Type >>
  17. Animal poems >>
  18. The Toad Cross Code >>
  19. Albert and the Jaguars >>
  20. Herogram >>