Animals of the World Unite! (Part Three)
by Patrick Campbell
Up spoke the graceful Albatross.
“I’ve flown here from Galapagos,
in which some egg-head long ago
did a study which would show
that men and monkeys are related,
an idea humans simply hated.
And can you guess, I’m sure you can,
which monkey’s father of the man?
That’s right, it’s our friend Chimpanzee
who’s in the humans’ family tree;
so we can blame his species for
all our troubles, to be sure.”
Poor Chimp! This unprovoked attack
felt like a dagger in his back;
and so the frightened little ape
thought fast about how he’d escape,
for innocently he’d become
Public Enemy Number One.
He hid his face behind his hands
and prayed a big hole in the sands
would open up and swallow him
before they tore him limb from limb.
Laughing falsely he exclaimed,
“Now, listen, folks! Chimps aren’t to blame;
it may be true that certain males
went completely off the rails
and mated with inferior stock
in some long ago epoch.
But, friends, my personal pedigree,
is utter, purebred chimpanzee,
so how could my folk be the link
with Homo sapiens when true chimps
haven’t changed the slightest bit?
We’re monkeys and we’re proud of it.”
Discreetly all those sitting close
to Chimp moved out to other rows.
It was too good a chance to miss
for Tigress. “Such amazing news!
What a turn-up for the books!
Surely you can see he looks
just like a man with that bald face.
And where’s his tail? See? Not a trace.
And what about his twenty toes?
That’s not human, I suppose!
So let’s have no more ifs or buts,
let’s pass a law to eat him up.”
But Chair called out, “Back to your seats!
You know the rules. No creature eats
another while the congress meets.
This is a vegetarian week.
Albatross, please now complete
your speech, but keep it short and sweet.”
And then the sea-bird spoke her mind.
“You won’t believe this. Humans find
they’ve albatrosses round their necks
when they’ve losses, mounds of debts.
Isn’t that rich from types who let
us perish in their fishing nets
and choke on plastic in the sea
so we ourselves become debris?
And when they shipped those wretched mice
onto our island paradise,
the only way those mice survived
was eating our poor chicks alive.
It’s we, my friends, who should regret
having men around our necks!”
The stories told by Cow and Sheep
made the toughest of them weep.
Dear reader, they were far too gory
for our gentle little story.
It was the same with Pig and Chicken
who told of things that really sickened
delegates a second time,
which we’ll gloss over in our rhyme.
A hundred others spoke of course
including our dear friend the Horse,
to whom we’ve given such hard chores
in toil-worn peace and dangerous wars.
But typically that noble beast
wasn’t bitter in the least,
merely expressing heartfelt thanks
that they’d invented cars and tanks.
And while some men had made him rue
his fate, he’d known some good’uns too.
Donkey seemed quite ill at ease;
“On a point of order, please;
they said when planning this event
that only one should represent
each species, whether flies or seals.
How is it then that I can feel
a hundred ants as sure as eggs
crawling up and down my legs?”
“I sympathise a lot,” said Chair,
“but if you want a venue where
ants are absent, I assume
you’d have to rocket to the moon,
and even then not be quite sure
ants hadn’t got there long before.
Now it’s time to hear from fans,
from those who see some good in man.”
And so Grasshopper took the floor
to try to even up the score.
“Where I live is pretty cool,
with luscious lawns and swimming pools.
You know, I really love to play
and jump around all jolly day.”
“Is she for real?” asked Antelope;
“how would the darling ever cope
on the savanna, eating grass
when any day could be your last
thanks to the creature over there …”
She nodded straight at Lion but Chair
said, “Just tonight please find it in you
to show good will; now please continue.”
Grasshopper did. “If you suppose
that my life’s a bed of roses,
I tell you, I too can be brave;
so many times I’ve had close shaves;
I always start to panic during
our lawn’s fortnightly manicuring,
for when the mower passes by
and churns our world up, why oh why
does no-one ever think to ask,
‘Is anyone down there in the grass?’
And when the gardener sprays the roses
that pesticide gets up our noses
and gives us such a dreadful head
we have to spend the day in bed.
But what I really want to say
is, as one hops about all day,
the simple rule we’re taught to keep;
is Always look before you leap.
One day I broke that golden rule
and landed in the swimming pool.
I feared the worst for who would save
a hopper from a watery grave?
But as I struggled for my life
the master’s tender-hearted wife
saved me with a fishing net,
and as I was still sopping wet,
she placed me in a sunny spot
till I was dry enough to hop.
You see, they have their kindly side
and that should never be denied.
Just tell me, when did bird or beast
here represented show the least
compassion for a living soul
outside their own flock, herd or shoal?”
An awkward silence met this question
which left the very clear impression
most participants regretted
that Grasshopper was ever netted.