A poem by Kelly Dean


On earth we swam; we crawled; we stomped, as creatures big and small

No hairy bipeds yet took hold to rule upon our fall

Our blood ran cold, our pimples bold, our skin slimy and dark

But nonetheless our ugliness prevailed through eons stark


Volcanoes grumbled, spewed and spit out earth’s digest-less meal

To boiling oceans, steaming lakes to hungry creatures’ zeal

Out of the seas we crawled, we breathed and walked upon our fins

(This led to God’s experiment with fuzzy, brainy men)


I waddle down beneath the cane and hope a snake won’t see

Ironically, escaping from a thing evolved from me!

Embarrassing — it is — to hide away amongst the leaves

As if my life’s been stolen from some bully reptile thieves


And birds are little better; thankfully, I’m almost grown

I now can stretch my chest most times and scare them with my groan

But life is very scary, often harsh, and seldom fair

Here in the Glades among the gators, birds and snakes and bears


True, here upon the earth it seems we are experiments

A part of something greater, smartly made, it’s evident

And just for now we fill our roles: to learn, evolve, survive

But there’s a reason, organized, not simply random life


I know it’s rather immature – a toad at my young age

To wish and pray that life was safe, no danger, pain or rage

My meager-like defenses don’t hold up to beaks and teeth

So I’ll just pray my ugly pimples make an oozing seethe!


And forth came hunches on my neck with poison stored within

No animal would touch me now, or thus their life would end!

Ah! Right behind my eyes I now can spew a toxic waste

And poison anything that comes near me to seek my taste


And just like that, my prayer answered, though it felt like sin…

To pray for vengeance buried deep beneath my wormwood skin

And like things borne of anger, I had not quite thought it through

As now I am an outcast, a pariah — ugly too!


For what’s the good in being safe if no one’s truly helped —

And what’s the self-fulfillment when those notions aren’t heartfelt?

And in the end, despite my efforts, I’m already dead

Such pointless early vengeance, dead before my point gets said!


The eater too, regrettably, can never tell another

Dead critters tell no tales and don’t become fathers and mothers

So paradoxically we both are dead, the feeder and the feed

And toads who do survive remain alone, always to flee


We often pray for vengeance; what we really want is safety

But sometimes things we pray for really aren’t so noble lately

 (And to the vain suburbanites whose puppies stray in peril;

Why is it only under threat that men fear nature’s will?)


I’ve killed the thing that killed me, is that some great lesson learned?

And in the end, I’m also dead, mere vengeance as my turn?

While vengeance sweet, I scarcely think it causes much repose

While breathing one’s last breath then facing retribution’s blows 


So when all days be done, I’m just pathetic sacrifice —

So maybe other bad things now will think before they bite?

Thus begs this vexing logic then, “What benefits my health?”

To poison first, to kill a thing, yet both still die ourselves?


Is wisdom lost when weakling fear is used to one’s defense?

As oozing pointless venom out for spite makes little sense

Oh no, I’d rather huddle close than ever live in fear

Or ever hide from those I hope might someday hold me dear


If boldness puts me in harm’s way as feckless fear oft goads

What better way to die than standing stead for fellow toads?

Not then I duck my head and offer toxic waste instead —

Not then I offer toxic pimples placed upon my head!


What point is made if I just turn my flipper to another

To only sit and watch them die alone without a brother

To push them out from ‘neath the leaf in grief to give me peace

Or further make them cover up to feign some health’s increase?


And of the bugs I’ve eaten, have they too their own complaints?

Is just because “they’re not like me” dismissing some restraint?

The way the system works at times seems cruel and harsh, unfair

But how else would a living system make its own repair?


As even without glands like mine, Amphibs have roamed this place

Way long before the hairy ones came forth with angry face

Four hundred-million years against your kind’s pathetic two

I’ll bet we figure out a way to keep surviving too


No, I prefer to let my glands grow dry and fade away

As I fear more ‘bout lessons taught to future toads someday

If I am kind, can give my life and bond when under strife

I’ll never value killing first… to substitute for life!



About the narrator…


My friends all call me Toadstoy, yet I really don’t know why

My name is really Abel and a cane toad job I ply

Old folks will call me Bufo, and I think it’s ‘cause I’m fat

My Brother often shuns me, maybe it’s because of that



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