Little Common Shrew
Common Shrew photograph by Terry Laws

Little Shrew

Little shrew,
A squeak in the verge,
Nothing but tiny heart and sinew,
A manic full stop on the road,
Zags out,
To nip a wounded fly,
Zigs back in,
To his grassy jungle,
Always hunting,
Never still,
Always hungry,
Never full.
How fierce must you be
To hunt constantly?
Little shrew.



Floating in still air,
a rarity in Scotland,
they stick to sweat,
and drown in hundreds,
are swatted in thousands,
are eaten in millions.
Winter wipes the fliers out,
a breeze disables them,
they drift to doom
in eyes, nostrils and webs,
dying on prey and predator,
a bane,
a cornucopia of protein,
a curse and blessing,
yet subject of all conversation.
And they drown in hundreds,
are swatted in thousands,
are eaten in millions,
but trillions remain,
to do what midges do.

Photograph by Mimi Connolly

Allotment Lizard

Come spring, when Sol climbs higher in the sky,
South facing downland plots warm up and dry,
Then comes from hibernation ‘neath the stones,
The creatures saved by sleep from frozen bones.
Amongst the waking hoards is one we seek,
Bejewelled with living stones he softly creeps,
To lie flat bodied in the golden rays,
He sparkles still and warm beneath our gaze.
Once charged with energy he moves away,
To seek out slower beasts that form his prey,
In darkened corners hid amongst the plants,
Tongue tasted air lends wings to his advance.
Stop go, stop go staccato steps he takes,
Until a woodlouse moves, a grave mistake,
A flash, a flick of tail is all we see,
As the allotment lizard catches tea.

Fiddler crabs
(In Tavira)

They surprised me,
And I them,
Looking over the scrub
Into the mud of a creek;
It was full of holes,
And of fiddler crabs,
Big and small
Every part camouflaged,
Except, every chap,
Sported one, huge, white claw.
This shouts to the world,
“I am king!”
And to others,
“I am lunch!”
The bigger the claw,
More chance to die,
But, such bluster,
Captures the belles:
Love conquers all,
All is the claw.
And thus they live.
One huge, white claw,
The other for feeding,
Their crabby mouth.
The belles forage with two
And, perhaps, eat more,
But the chaps have that law,
And live with their claw.
Yes, I surprised them,
And they me,
Dashing up to their holes,
Chaps quicker.
That claw,
They’ve evolved to be fast,
The belles can come last,
For they’re harder to see
On the mud by the sea.
Then, by their holes,
Their nerves composed,
They come out,
And wave at me,
And I see my world in a different way,
How different are we?
And I smile at the fiddlers,
I smile at it all, the fiddler crabs,
And their life of the claw.


In fields the crows are often grouped in threes,
They pace the sward all robed in shiny black,
Like undertakers fallen from the trees,
Jet wings like arms held loose behind their backs.
Their stance, their gait, their beaks all echo doom,
A trio expert in the art of death,
Their presence is not light, but portends gloom,
They watch with glee a creature’s dying breath,
For carrion is theirs, is in their name,
Of all the birds they always plan ahead,
That’s why each year one child they do retain,
To strengthen their firm grip on future dead.
A trinity can cover far more ground,
Can stymie rivals playing winning hands,
This murder can be seen in us I’ve found,
We’re stalked by death in our priest-ridden land.
Light seldom comes from something coloured black,
Yet crows, at least, clean up life’s tragedies,
And care for their own young and never slack,
But priests hold death up high with jollity.
So never look at crows with purs-ed lips,
They are but creatures with no evil thought,
Yet dark-robed priests will wield their crucifix,
And feed on god-fed terror they have brought.

The Wren

The wren sang loudly,
Shouting notes,
Into the white morning sky,
Urgent and angry,
Louder and more strident,
Then, as I passed,
It broke cover,
Flying up to high wires,
And proclaimed,
Notes louder, clearer,
And against the sky,
This dot of loud notes,
Looked just like,
A truncated crotchet,
The wren was a note,
Producing notes,
Delivered to all,
Announcing Spring,
With no thought,
Of anything but life,
The moment,
The joy of being,
And I thought,
Young love’s heart,
Must be a singing wren.


In a tree,
Not mighty,
but secure in its position,
Between the rails,
Is a big nest,
For a big buzzard,
But, as yet,
It is just a white, fluffy ball,
Peering over the sticks,
At a big world.

Station Robins

A shaded Northing Winter,
Drawing Arctic breezes,
Birthing black, chill nights,
Under darkling skies,
Where Nature paints,
Using shades of jet,
Gunmetal clouds,
And patent black roads,
Reflecting street lights.
Drowsy with sleep,
I’m an early commuter,
And often walk,
In this secret world,
Black, cold and silent,
But for the wind,
And an arrogant, lovely bird.
Once a dweller of the Wild Wood,
A night sleeper,
And daytime camp follower,
Of rooting boars,
This fearsome scrap,
Now lives with new world rooters,
Us, mankind,
More swine than any.
Our gift to them is light,
Their gift to us,
A battle cry,
A song of proclamation,
“We’re still here!
This is mine,
This lamplight,
This path,
This station!”
My train stops,
At every bright lit station,
And each has its singer,
Their defiant song,
Drifts to me,
Through the opened doors,
With the ear-plugged trudgers,
And only I smile,
At my constant,
Northern Winter companions,
The Station Robins.

All website content ©Paul Comerford, author, unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.