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Tinker

The Alphabestiary

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Explore the Craft of Writing

Greek Verse, the beginnings.

The Alphabestiary a type of Acrostic or more specifically an Alphabet poem, which dates back to Greece in the 2nd and 3rd centuries but truly came into its own in medieval England. There is no required line length, meter, or rhyme scheme. The only requirement is that each letter of the alphabet is described poetically as an animal or in human terms. In medieval times illustrations of the animals accompanied the poem. It is a stylized variation of the Bestiary or Physiologus.

Lions, Tigers and Bears by Judi Van Gorder

Alluring Abalone, Mother of Pearl, sea's acclaim                                          
Bright Bluebirds, happiness chortling a song,
Chirping Cicada, singing its way to fame,
Dramatic Dolphins sleek and strong.
Energetic Elands roam plains and plateaus,
grazing in peace or running from foes.
Freaky frogs freely hop round bog,
Great Gulls, fearless flying in fog.
Hovering Hummingbirds, still in mid-air
Irritated Iguana hisses to scare.
Jiggly Jellyfish grace with a sting,
Krikey Koalas climb trees and cling.
Lithe Leopard, spots disguise the wise,

 

Mama Manatee's girth, a sea cow's worth,
Nature's Nightingales serenade 'til sunrise.
Odd Ostrich, buries head in earth
Picky Penguins mate for life
Quick Quagga, extinct and can't find a wife.
Raped Rhinoceros horns make thieves prosperous,
Slick Sea lions slip away from seas phosphorous.
Theatrical Toucan bright yellow and green,
Unseen Unicorn, fabled protector queen
Venatic Vulture, carrion, seeking dead,
Watchful Whale nurses, mother-child bond,
Xanthic Xoni's horn frozen to Pakistani pond.
Youthful yapok, black and white striped head,
Zealous Zopilote, black bird of dread.

 

Alphabestiary by Frank Gibbard

A Respect aardvark
Not first up on ark,
But by dint of a b c
Is in every dictionary.

B Be wary on meeting a genuine bear
Better by far if you can to forbear -
Best not be gulled by its Teddy Bear looks,
The barefaced depiction of forests of books.

C Cats are their very own best friends
Their comfort over all transcends.
The only reason they let us stay,
Unfed they'd up and run away.

D Dog is man's best friend so they say
In essence just a wolf gone tame
That saw in life an easier way
When into our homes it happily came.

E Eagles have had the highest billing
As national symbols in Rome and the States
Appropriate efficient machine for killing
Predator assassin: one of the greats.

F Fox is wily, fox is cunning
Always hunted, ever running.

G The zoo enclosure held no gnu
The keeper knew not what to do,
Any animal's bad to lose
But no Gnus is even worser news.

H Hound alphabetically goes after fox
Which parenthetically is how it gets off its rocks.

A zoo ibex though knowing
It's just a goat
Is inwardly glowing
With cause to gloat
It snoots at the average common creature
Without an "x" to boast as a notable feature
But vexing this ibex, and how
His life now stinks,
Next cage they're annexing now
An exasperating lynx.

J Jaguar
A car
And more:
A carnivore.

K An Aussie koala bear,
Being astutely self aware
Knows it's not a bear
And will tell any oiks who
Seem to think it's bloody funny
To proffer pots of honey:
"Streuth mate! I'm not bleeding Winnie The Pooh."
L Llama a bit like a camel
But flat backed with no lump
Known abroad not near so well
Is likely to get the hump
And morph into the queen of drama
If confused with the Dalai Lama.

M M is for man
And also for monkey
In terms Darwinian
We're much the same, thunk he.

N The Australian numbat despite the "bat"
Is not a flying beast
And among things suffixed thus
Is probably known the least .
But brighter than ding,
You wouldn't call it a kick-it failure
Though your num trails behind
After wom, fruit and cricket
In its native home Australia.

O Oh the okapi
Has a name that rhymes with happy
And I hear a tongue, such a lucky break
That sinuously like a snake
Your okapi chappy insinuates and steers
Into the crevices of its ears.
Thereby, effectively clearing
The aural fluff that'll
Tend to muffle hearing.

P Porcupines by Nature's deft designs
Protected against their enemy by deadly spines
Which lay a minefield for the sexual act
Unless approached with utmost tact
The simple business of reproduction
Paw-played by careful introduction
Of one to the other, a precise seduction
Before attempted impregnation
While risking thus a painful prick
Porcupines pull off their prickly trick
Of prestidigitation.

Q Quail in bird terms is small potatoes
Its political namesake is too
And when it comes to spelling potato
That's something Dan Quayle could not do.

R Reindeer antlers
From the Laplands
Headgear transplanted
Into hatstands.

S Skunk and swine
Both terms of abuse
But the progenitors of these names
Are inheritors of philological misuse
If I may so humbly opine.

That this natural punk when threatened stunk
Can hardly be denied
But herbal skunk inhales well in flames
Or so I heard implied.
Revere swine as the class porcine
Deify their meat as it eats divine.
or
A young but short-sighted suburban snake
looked around for a suitable date to take,
he thought he'd found a willing girl
around whom he threw a sensuous curl
but sadly not seeing what he tried to propose
would have no appeal to a garden hose.

T Ageing tiger turning white
Dozing through the long long night
Whatever power made you wither
May seem a sort of Indian giver,
Blake's divine description does not say
Each mighty tiger loses sway.

U If you were a modern Noah
And a flood occurred
Would you put up an umbrella bird?

V Vegetarians are as strange birds
As you are like to meet,
They seem to think that sausages
Should not contain any meat,
Though bangers were made for the likes of us
So we might feel replete.
Why can't they find their own bleeding names
For what they choose to eat?

W The wolf is a slavouring and predacious beast
Seeking fresh flesh on which he'd just love to feast
But this wolf-man lets down his much better bred males
And in pursuit of his desires often letches and fails.
By contrast real wolves rarely stray from their lairs
Inclined by fair Nature to bond in tight pairs

X You never find the xenopus toad
Around an X ray fish;
One inhabits a dry abode
The other's somewhat wettish.

Y It's no Shangri La for the yak
A beast of burden Tibetans pack
With prodigious loads on its straining back
Oh put upon yak, alas alack.

Z The enclosures and cages of a zoo
Are like the pages of an Animals Who's Who
From aardvark to zebra exotic fauna are filed
In our attempt to incarcerate the wild

 

 

 

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