A Bestiary


The man who found the aardvark

Was laughed out of the meeting

Of the Dutch Academy.

Nobody would believe him.

The aardvark had its revenge —

It returned in dreams, in smoke,

In anonymous letters.

One day somebody found out

It was in Hieronymus

Bosch all the time. From there it

Had sneaked off to Africa.


Achilles, Aesop, Mark Twain,

Stalin, went to the ant.

Your odds are one to three if

You decide to ignore it.

The aardvark, he eats them up,

And frightens all the people.


When the world is white with snow,

The bear sleeps in his darkness.

When the people are asleep,

The bear comes with glowing eyes

And steals their bacon and eggs.

He can follow the bees from

Point to point for their honey.

The bees sting but he never

Pays them any attention.

Tame bears in zoos beg for buns.

Two philosophies of life:

Honey is better for you

Than buns; but zoo tricks are cute

And make everybody laugh.


There are too many poems

About cats. Beware of cat

Lovers, they have a hidden

Frustration somewhere and will

Stick you with it if they can.


Coneys are a feeble folk,

But their home is in the rocks.

If you've only got one rock

There are better things to do

With it than make a home of it.


The contented cow gives milk.

When they ask, " Do you give milk? "

As they surely will, say " No. "


Deer are gentle and graceful

And they have beautiful eyes.

They hurt no one but themselves,

The males, and only for love.

Men have invented several

Thousand ways of killing them.


The eagle is very proud.

He stays alone, by himself,

Up in the top of the sky.

Only brave men find his home.

Few telescopes are sharper

Than his eyes. I think it's fine

To be proud, but remember

That all the rest goes with it.

There is another kind of

Eagle on flags and money.


The fox is very clever.

In England people dress up

Like a movie star's servants

And chase the fox on horses.

Rather, they let dogs chase him,

And they come along behind.

When the dogs have torn the fox

To pieces they rub his blood

On the faces of young girls.

If you are clever do not

Let anybody know it,

But especially Englishmen.


G stands for goat and also

For genius. If you are one,

Learn from the other, for he

Combines domestication,

Venery, and independence.


The herring is prolific.

There are plenty of herrings.

Some herrings are eaten raw.

Many are dried and pickled.

But most are used for manure.

See if you can apply this

To your history lessons.


It is fun to ride the horse.

If you give him some sugar

He will love you. But even

The best horses kick sometimes.

A rag blowing in the wind

Can cause him to kill you. These

Characteristics he shares

With the body politic.


Take care of this. It's all there is.

You will never get another.


The jackal's name is often

Used as a term of contempt.

This is because he follows

The lion around and lives

On the leavings of his kill.

Lions terrify most men

Who buy meat at the butcher's.


As you know, the kangaroo

Has a pocket, but all she

Puts in it is her baby.

Never keep a purse if all

You can find to put in it

Is additional expense.

(The reception of these words

Will also serve to warn you:



The lion is called the king

Of beasts. Nowadays there are

Almost as many lions

In cages as out of them.

If offered a crown, refuse.


Someday, if you are lucky,

You'll each have one for your own.

Try it before you pick it.

Some kinds are made of soybeans.

Give it lots to eat and sleep.

Treat it nicely and it will

Always do just what you want.


In South Africa, among

The Bushmen, the mantis is

A god. A predatory

And cannibalistic bug,

But one of the nicer gods.


Monkeys are our relatives.

On observing their habits

Some are ashamed of monkeys,

Some deny the relation,

Some are ashamed of themselves.

They throw coconuts at us.


N is for nothing. There is

Much more of it than something.


The okapi is extinct.

The reason is under " N. "


When in danger the possum

Plays dead. The state when dying

Plays danger. With the possum

This trick works; sometimes

He escapes. But when the state

Plays with death, it really dies.


The quagga is extinct also.

If it hadn't been for the quagga

We'd be short a beast for " q. "

I can't think of one, can you?


The raccoon wears a black mask,

And he washes everything

Before he eats it. If you

Give him a cube of sugar,

He'll wash it away and weep.

Some of life's sweetest pleasures

Can be enjoyed only if

You don't mind a little dirt.

Here a false face won't help you.


A hex was put on you at birth.

Society certified your

Existence and claimed you as

A citizen. Don't let it

Scare you. Learn to cope with a world

Which is built entirely of fake,

And in which, if you find a truth

Instead of a lie, it is due

To somebody's oversight.

These stuffed old rags are harmless,

Unless you show them the fear

Which they can never warrant,

Or reveal the contempt which

Of course is all they deserve.

If you do, they'll come to life,

And do their best to kill you.


The seal when in the water

Is a slippery customer

To catch. But when he makes love

He goes on dry land and men

Kill him with clubs.

To have a happy love life,

Control your environment.


The trout is taken when he

Bites an artificial fly.

Confronted with fraud, keep your

Mouth shut and don't volunteer.

Uncle Sam

Like the unicorn, Uncle

Sam is what is called a myth.

Plato wrote a book which is

An occult conspiracy

Of gentlemen pederasts.

In it he said ideas

Are more nobly real than

Reality, and that myths

Help keep people in their place.

Since you will never become,

Under any circumstances,

Gentlemen pederasts, you'd

Best leave these blood-soaked notions

To those who find them useful.


The unicorn is supposed

To seek a virgin, lay

His head in her lap, and weep,

Whereupon she steals his horn.

Virginity is what is

Known as a privation. It is

Very difficult to find

Any justification for

Something that doesn't exist.

However, in your young days

You might meet a unicorn.

There are not many better

Things than a unicorn horn.


St. Thomas Aquinas thought

That vultures were lesbians

And fertilized by the wind.

If you seek the facts of life,

Papist intellectuals

Can be very misleading.


Never believe all you hear.

Wolves are not as bad as lambs.

I've been a wolf all my life,

And have two lovely daughters

To show for it, while I could

Tell you sickening tales of

Lambs who got their just deserts.


Let Y stand for you who says,

" Very clever, but surely

These were not written for your

Children? " Let Y stand for yes.


Clothes do not make the zebra.

Better wear a convict's stripes

Free on the lonely savannah

Than the panoplied harness

Of a queen on Rotten Row,

Or a thief's colors at Ascot.

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