Friday, 7 September 2018


I recently read Peter Fankopan's History of The Silk Road. It was an interesting history book. One aside that caught my imagination concerned a European ambassador being sent to make a treaty with a Sultan and the presents brought possibly included a gift of dodos. This struck me as a really powerful image. Over a couple of weeks I produced this poem.

The Gift of Dodos

was an after thought,
a knee jerk reaction,
on the part of the Captain
when the ambassador informed him
of the Sultan’s jewelled throne,
with peacocks free to strut about the palace,
more beloved than all the tax payers
who matched his weight in silver
every birthday weigh-in.

On the shore a disdainful dodo scowled,
wised up to the hazards sailors presented,
and when the mood came upon them
they could run like the wind.
Our day’s labours netted seven maudlin specimens.

Then the cook declared the hen bird the cleverer,
asserting we had caught a muttering of males,
easily hoodwinked, far more stupid.
He had been here before, in 1599 and again in 04
and was well versed in their culinary possibilities.

With an eye to the weather,
the Captain decided that they would have to do,
ordered them below, well away from the chickens.
Seven sour faced fowls, seasick the whole voyage.

By the time the pilot took us in to harbour
I had scrubbed the last one clean,
scorn writ large on it’s face,
too dispirited, by this point,
to even attempt to bite me.

We herded them through the streets.
Locals stopped to watch
their unsteady sea leg progress.

Needless to say the Sultan was unimpressed
with the fractious dodos chasing his peacocks,
fouling his fountains and crying.
A keening lament for their lost freedom.

It is of course totally fictitious. The poem wrote itself. 
At times the best strategy is just to write, with your critical self silenced and sort it out once the ideas are on paper.
Late the other night I was listening to Iron and Wine. Here's Boy With A Coin.

Until next time.

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