Kudu kudu

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Kudu kudu

how magical to view you

your pinstripe torso and your curtain fringe mane.

Kudu  kudu,

posing like a statue

licking at the dawn dew

lifting your head and sniffing for rain.

Kudu kudu

horns in a corkscrew

your muzzle with a tattoo,

a sharp white horseshoe, 

you master the plains.

The bush birds of Africa

are setting up a clamour.

The Bokmakierie’s chatter

and the hoo-hoo of a Hoopoe

serenade you kudu,

giant of an antelope 

but looking so innocuous.

I zoom my binoculars.

The early mist dissolves and 

you loom into view.

Kudu kudu,

your crest is crisp, its line is true,

it’s stiff as a quiff done with gel and shampoo,

you cockatoo!

So tell,  why do

the farmers hate you so?

Kudu kudu,

how they rue you,

they blast you with shotguns,

use rifles to shoo you

off the crops.

Even in patrolled reserves

where your interests should be served

the danger never stops.

There’s lions in lines,  hyenas in a queue

to lunch on you

crunch on you

chomp you and chew you.


Oh kudu  kudu,

once the Bantu

tribes,  the Xhosa, the Shona, the Zulu

thrust their weapons through you

but now it’s rich white men pursue you.

They wanna cut your head off,  nail it to the wall,

extending scant compassion,  no respect at all,

affronting common graces due you.

They brai you, fry you

kebab and barbecue you

and if you’re rather tough 

they will chop you up and stew you.

If I were a Buddhist,  if I were a Hindu,

I’d crank up my karma not to come back a kudu!

Kudu kudu

I look at all these bugaboos

all these age-old enemies

your death-dealing retinue

and see you are no chump:

you need a certain voodoo

to thrive the way that you do.

What’s the secret?  Here’s a clue:

you take a cue from a kangaroo. 

You jump!

You jump!

You jump!

You jump!

You jump!

kuduAnimalsSouth Africa

◄ My name is Silence

Hoopoe ►


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Tim Ellis

Fri 23rd Apr 2021 23:20

A poem from my new book, Birder in the Bushveld. It’s a collection of nature themed poems inspired by three trips to South Africa I’ve made during my life, displayed over colour photographs my partner Robbie took while we were travelling. I’m running a launch week presently, so it’s available at a £5 discount until Sunday from my website Birdbard.weebly.com or you could buy it on Amazon for a little more. Trust me, it’s good!

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