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