An ostrich walks beside the red brick wall,
In academic gown and tasselled mortar board.
His head bobs so, his feathered neck gyrates.
He walks with purpose, seriousness, lacking natural grace.

A giant salmon, works the Saudi oilfields for a while,
Checking pipes and valves on crude oil feeder lines.
It's hot, he wears a hat and shades, and keeps
The windows up in air-conditioned jeeps.
His wife is spawning in their homeland far away.
He checks his valves in silence,
And in each morning's mirror sees his scales turn grey.

The woodland by the paddock owns
The latest mobile phone.
Its bright young birch trees call
A friendly coppice in the town
And talk of music and of clubs and when will autumn come.
Three twisted oaks, the same age as the paddock's name,
Three Sisters, bearing fertile acorns still, and mistletoe,
Now stand and watch all day a giant cable TV screen,
And listen to the wind in Nicam stereo.

An elephant employed in printing, forges forty-dollar bills.
The winter's mild, the summer rages
And the culverts fill
With blood and golden sovereigns;
Red soup with yellow metal lumps.
The starship Earth jerks round its solar orbit,
Each year, a little less naturally,
In blindfold jumps.

Andrew Starling

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