Monday, April 29, 2013


Photo by Sara and Joachim, Selected by Mary Lee Hahn on Wikipedia
I'm participating in Mary Lee Hahn's Common Inspiration, Uncommon Creations Poetry Challenge this month. This morning's prompt was a picture of three meerkats, standing sentry, I think, at their burrow. I did a quick, five minute poem, and thought I was done, which was good, since I had a bunch of schoolwork I needed to do this morning.

"it's a kat eat kat world"

The important thing
is that we have
each other's backs.

you look to the left
I say to Fred,

and you look to the right
I say to Herb

And me, George,
I'll look straight ahead.

The important thing
is that we have
each other's backs.

(c) Carol Wilcox

But then my curiosity got the better of me. I started wondering about those meerkats. They are pretty funny looking. What about those circular eyes. And why were they together? Do they really live in groups. And what were they really doing? I looked them up meerkats on wikipedia. And started pulling out interesting facts. Then this poem came about.


You think I'm kinda funny looking?

Those stripes
on my back?
none of the other
fifty fellows
in my large mob
(or some people call it a gang or clan)
look exactly like me.

That hairless patch on my belly?
The place
where my black skin shows through?
That absorbs heat  while I'm standing
on my rear legs,
early in the morning
after cold Kalahari desert nights.

And those big  eyes
on the front of my face?
For watching.
African tribesmen
trust me to
protect their villages
from werewolves
that attack stray cattle

And I gotta take my turn at sentry duty
while others are foraging.
We forage for food
every day
Meerkats don't carry around
any stored body fat. 

That long curved claw?
That little hummer
can dig my weight
in sand in only seconds. 
Mostly, I'm foraging for insects
but if I'm really hungry
I might dig up a scorpion.
Not to brag,
but did I mention
that unlike you humans
I'm immune to
the venom of scorpions.

And those black  crescent-shaped ears?
they close.
keep out soil
when I'm digging
pretty handy
a fella's gotta be able to hear
to protect himself
from brothers
who might want to kill him
to up their status
in our meerkat mob.

My long tapering tail?
Yeah, it's different
from my bushy-tailed
mongoose relatives.
That tail helps me balance when I stand upright,
And I use it
for signaling.
The Dutch didn't call me
stick tail
for nothing.

Sun angel.
You still think I'm kinda funny looking?

(c) Carol Wilcox, 2013

1 comment:

Cathy said...

I'm guessing you did a little research for your poem. When I saw Mary Lee's picture of the meerkats I had to join the fun. I did a little research and found some of the same information I see in your poem. It was very interesting. I didn't know all the facts about their tails.