Animal Encounters of the First Kind

Have you ever noticed how writing something down gave you a whole new perspective on it? These stories all happened separately, but once I began to write each poem, I realized there was a rhythm to them. They flowed, not in chronological order, but from the biggest creature to the smallest, from the most fearful to the most fearless, in an odd juxtaposition of animal-kind.

“Feline Xenophobia”

Bright green eyes are open wide,

Watching my every move.

Pyramid ears swivel toward me,

Monitoring my every noise.

Lithe body stretches slinky-like,

Trying to sneak to safety

When her owners are distracted,

But, no, she is retracted

From a dash behind the couch or bed,

And I gently pet her silky head,

Speaking kindly to the feline

Trying to overcome her stranger-fear.

“Squirrel Indifference?”

Perched in a tree fork, nibbling away at a nut,

Merely two feet away as I stop on the path,

Reigns a lordly squirrel who solemnly gazes

Down at me without a speck of shyness, all cool

Indifference, tiny jaws and paws quivering

As he handles his food.  He stared at me so long

I’d call it quite rude, except I was no better,

Photographing the silly sovereign with my phone.

Suddenly, he skims up the tree away from view.

Perhaps his calm demeanor was but a sham

And the seeming indifference hid his fear of man.

“Turtle Courage”

Tiny turtle, I won’t hurt you.

Here, I’ll help you off your back.

Let me set you on this windowsill

To keep you safe from treading feet

Until our gardening is complete.

Tiny turtle, half-dollar in diameter

With a patterned yellow belly

And a red clay muddied back,

You never retreat inside your shell,

But stick your head out boldly.

Tiny turtle, you embark on a journey,

Full of danger, as you bravely totter

Over the brink and back to the ground

From that high sill of solitude—

A feat I thought you’d never do.

Tiny turtle, you won’t let me help you.

No, you must face the world alone.

On your back again from your tumble,

You wriggle until you flip upright,

Striking out for the flower jungle.

Tiny turtle, here’s a final helping hand

To a less-populated bit of land.

Your courage belies your yellow-belly.

You are no coward, I can tell.

Undaunted, go, and fare you well.


This poetic trio is based on perhaps my top two inspirations for poetry: true events and animals. Can you compose a poem or short story using one or both of these? If so, please share in the comments! I think you will find the process and the result rewarding.