Extinction poems from South Camden Community School students

Extinction is a flame burning out

Loss of heat
Room getting colder
It was light, I could see the way, but now it’s dark and I’m lost.
Like being blindfolded, my senses are stolen.
No sight, nor sound.
Loss of beauty.
I try to breathe but my lungs don’t want to know me.
It’s dark but already
I can tell I’m in trouble
and I’m going nowhere.

by Driin, Fama, Abyan

The Dutch sailor’s remorse

If I had known of the consequences
I would have tamed myself
Just like the sea cow
Who fell victim to my ravenous stomach.
What was I to do? What could anyone have done in fact?

Their fat, a substantial butter substitute, was delicious,
And all the more reason to dig in.

Poor creature, at its discovery, was vulnerable even in its herd.
If only I could have foreseen the consequences
Then perhaps my conscience would not be so weary.

By Fama

Steller’s Sea Cow speaks

Nature made me
But I feel as if I’ve lost protection

Nature made me
Yet I feel as if nature itself
doesn’t know who I am

Nature made me
But I’m under constant threat
from those superior to me

Nature made me
Somehow I had this natural feeling
that you too would care enough for me

Nature made me
So I thought you would love me
as your fellow companion

Nature made me
And for my fate there was zero creation
because now it ends.

By Fama Y10

Elephant Bird

The Aepyornis creature
The leader of the birds
Every single feature
Extinct in all the world.

Now they’re gone forever,
Those birds I’ll never see.
They were probably very clever,
Now hopefully they’re free.

By Rose Green 7B

Elephant Birds – legendary beasts.
Now that they are gone, their murderers have feasts.
All I wanted to do was to see them at least.
This is not fair.
It’s hard to bear.

Eulogy to the Great Thylacine

O the great Thylacine
Your stripes are outstanding and worth looking at
Those mighty jaws of yours are very
So much that no-one would dare to look away.

You are your own animal
Nothing can match your unique looks.
You are the mighty king of all animals!
You will always be remembered.

The last Thylacine was killed by a human.
Please don’t take revenge on humans.

By Mahid Sulley and Yasmin Ahmed

Extinction is a journey that has come to an end

Loss of hope, preventable.
A story with a tragic ending.
A jammed cycle that cannot go on.
An unexpected stop.
What have we become?

by Tom, Bleon, Mahid

Reflections on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon

We ask ourselves
Why something so precious
So innocent
Had to come to an end like this.
It’s time to change:
These horrible things are still happening.
How can we be so selfish?

They deserved to live, to survive, to be happy, just as much as humans!
They did nothing to harm us.
They didn’t jeopardise our lives.
They didn’t do anything but just live.
And we had to take this away from them.

By Monsur and Vessa

Published in: on March 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm  Comments (1)  

The Extinction of Memory


Published in: on March 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Wake to the Kittiwakes during London Fashion Week


A Wake to the Kittiwakes during London Fashion Week

A collage poem inspired by two articles juxtaposed in The Guardian, 16.9.06

Sprats are out this season
and Lerwick feels absolutely the new Cannes
now the North Sea’s turned Mediterranean.
This is how it looks:

gaunt forms,
breast-bones protruding,
they strut and posture against a fabulous cliff-edge location –

and it’s a muted palette:
Kittiwake white and grey
jostling Guillemot penguin suits,
with narrow neck-bands and those Cleopatra eyes,
o, and lots of retro ruffles,
feathers decidedly dishevelled.

An avian style of heroin chic,
it turns the spotters’ heads
as the chicks lose their grip,
and, like Naomi on platform heels,
and slip –

to double zero,
body-mass stripped,
make a splash where no flash-bulbs ever venture.

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Ice, an Elegy


Ice, an Elegy

The Ice Queen is leaving –
all around, her ancient kingdom
is cracking up – trickling, splitting,
as her vast, crystal sleigh
grinds on the fast-track to oblivion.

For millennia she held her huge mirror
steady to the Sun; now she’s losing her cool,
sheets shrinking, her albedo body
pocked with melting pools, moulins
milling in, chutes of water sailing her
the slipway of lost forever.

Yet each day her belly calves
desperate bergs of ice. Bereft, these tongues
curl and shrink as they sense their mother
spent – her skin once tinted blue,
now deathly pale.

Her courtiers and creatures
are disappearing too –
in despair they throw their arms into the air;
tall maidens
once yoked in lustrous bridal gowns,
one by one
to their knees,
faces crashing down
in mounds into the sea.

Even the glacial snow men,
who plucked boulders and carried
their erratic cargo across continents,
now stumble, retreat – valleys scoured
by their dark rheumatic wake.

Everywhere Foxes, Bears,
Wolverines and Leopards mourn their Queen –
prowling the rosaries of paternoster lakes,
they murmur eulogies and prayers.

And at last we hurry in
with tools, instruments and measuring rods
to probe, extend our senses –
to scientize this demise of ice.

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lament for Baiji, Yangtze River Dolphin


Lament for Baiji, Yangtze River Dolphin

Our People’s Republic’s opened like a giant
red flower – head turned to the West –
and ever since our world’s been going sour.

Along the Yangtze a filthy stream
of traffic pours – dredgers, barges, tourist
boats tossing our sampans aside.

They say it’s the way forward,
but this great river’s giving up the ghost –
and with no Fish or Shrimps to eat,
our River Dolphin’s vanished.


On the fifth day of the fifth month
our hut inspired hopeful aromas;
and women came with scarlet thread to tie
Bamboo leaves round homemade dumplings.

Pang was rosy-cheeked, scolding me
for my despondent moods. As usual we’d honour
Qu Yang, our patriotic poet – his ‘Lament for Ying’
and drowning in the river.

Legend tells that fishermen threw dumplings in
to tempt the River Dragons from the poet’s body;
but we believe our sleek Baiji came clicking,
whistling him away.

Cheer up, Huang! Pang urged me.
Soon young men with boats and drums
will sound the Dragon’s heart.

Soon after Duan Wu the Sun attains its peak
and we need the rains to plant our rice;
last year they didn’t come – for months the soil
was bones boiled and set like glue.

But this is Duan Wu in Golden Pig year,
Pang persisted;
Dragons will surely bring the rains!

Father smoked and watched her wrap the sticky parcels,
his face a haze of bluish mist;
he remembered the Great Leap Forward,
how Mao denounced the tales that kept our Dolphin safe.
Superstitious maybe, but old men like Father
would never hunt them for their flesh. Those who hurt Baiji
are always cursed, he said.


Now Pang is patching trousers –
her sewing brings a little income;
she sighs and glances up. In the wintry light
her face is drawn, aged.

My good wife looking like a stranger!
I search my thoughts for something
to restore her cheerful smile –
a little joke, a reminiscence?

But hunger’s gnawing at my belly
and I’ve no strength to break the silence;
this year even Golden Pig was out of luck –
the rains arrived, but heavier than we’d ever known.

How long we’ll survive
lies with the gods – perhaps no longer
than our flower can
with growth devouring its heart?

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monsoon June


Monsoon June

After the Christian Aid advert depicting a South Asian woman up to her neck in water, with the caption — Do us a favour will you? Write to your MP about that climate change bill!

The water’s encircling my neck, Kali –
a damp strangle like the hands of my brother,
when he’s too drunk to know better.
And these rags I called a sari
are wings trailing in these fields-turned sea
that flap me up to rooftops, bridges
where we perch with our dry-lipped children, waiting.

Sometimes when darkness laps at our feet
and the Moon throws us silver shackles,
I lie awake, wishing your four arms would pincer me away,
prize my skull among the garlands
that chatter from your breasts
as you dance the charnel-grounds with Lord Shiva.

But I must be strong for all our little ones;
and so each day I wade with my hollow-bellied vessel –
like a girl trying to swim, her float so buoyant – praying
you’ll speed my return, Kali, the long, long way from the pump,
the burden pressing on my head.

The stink I can accept, bloated corpses, flooding
sewage – but keep those scaly Muggers snoozing in their lairs
now their hunting grounds are everywhere.
And yes, I do seek protection, dear Durga,
though I’ve made no offerings – the usual ball of rice
and flowers – but we have nothing now,
and the plants are drowned.

Archana says the villages of Maharashta come last
for handouts because the newsmen never visit –
they stay in Mumbai where sacred cows
are floating in the streets.

The holy men believe these are the heaviest rains
India’s known in all her history –
in the city many houses have no light, telephone, or water
from the tap. And so perhaps we’re lucky?
When rains sweep the world away,
we know how to live on the edge.

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 9:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Fallen


The Fallen

A growing number of wildflower species are on the edge of extinction – according to The Vascular Plant Red Data List 2005, nine native species have been lost within the British Isles.

Here lies Ghost Orchid;
once haunted Beechwoods –
rest in peace.

Here lies Small Bur-parsley;
legion pot-herb of wastelands –
rest in peace.

Here lies Alpine Bladder-fern;
crosiers lost from damp highland rocks –
rest in peace.

Here lies Cottonweed;
assieged from Britain’s beaches –
rest in peace.

Here lies Purple Spurge;
eternally procumbent –
rest in peace.

Here lies Marsh Fleawort;
ditched from fens, unrecorded –
rest in peace.

Here lies Downy Hemp-nettle;
the deceased passed unremarked from fields –
rest in peace.

Here lies Summer Lady’s-tresses;
style totally outmoded –
rest in peace.

Here lies Lamb’s Succory;
succumbed to high-yield wheat –
rest in peace.

And with each plant, its embedded companions,
the unknown biota lost to steady human pressure –
may your souls also rest in peace.

Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment