In Competition No. 3099 you were invited to dream up an imaginary animal that is a hybrid of two existing ones and write a poem about it.
The discovery, some time ago, that the Romans called a giraffe a ‘cameleopard’ (also the subject of a poem by Thomas Hood) gave me the initial idea for this challenge. I was then reminded of it when reading Spike Milligan’s Book of Milliganimals with my son (remember the Moo-Zebras and the Bald Twit Lion?).
Your fantastic beasts included the Octophant, the kangasheep, the corgiraffe and a couple of llamadillos. It was a difficult comp to judge: there were loads of entries of great merit — many from old hands but plenty from newcomers too. Commendations to Andrew Marstrand, David Caney, Dominic Croft and Ian Barker; £25 to the winners.
The mismatch of giraffe and jackal
Produced the rather weird girackal.
The top half had a life of ease,
Nibbling at the tops of trees,
But while it chewed its leafy cud
The bottom scavenged guts and blood.
‘It seems,’ the top said, ‘not quite fair
With me up here and you down there.’
‘Not so,’ the answer came, ‘it’s fine —
You play your part and I play mine.
We are a team without an ego,
Wherever you or I go, we go.
Your height means you can watch for trouble,
While I love sorting muck and rubble.’
Which shows there is no need for schisms
In any hybrid organisms.
A cormorant and a May bug met
And, wondering if they should beget,
They pondered then declared, ‘Why not?’
And so it was the pair begot.
When, in due course, a cormay hatched,
Its separate parts were not well matched:
It had a pin-sized head, no beak,
And massive body, black and sleek.
In two minds, neither side agreed
Upon which nutrients to feed,
Or what might make the ideal dish,
One favoured roots, the other, fish.
The moral here is plain as day —
A beast whose name links Cor with May
To work as one was not designed
And always would be misaligned.