In Praise of Pangolins


In Praise of Pangolins

So wonderful, exotic & rare
are pangolins. And do we care
a jot that we are not aware
of what they look like, even where
they live? Throw in their hallowed name
to any hard-fought parlour game
& everyone will say the same –
“The pangolin? The pangolin?
You’re sure you don’t mean mandolin
or mandrake, manatee, orangutan
or William Saroyan?”
And like a map-inventing missionary
you’ll hold aloft your dictionary
& slyly, proudly utter to the crowd
“It lives on ants. It is allowed.”
& hear the women swoon amongst
themselves at talk of ten-inch tongues
whilst menfolk interject with manly tales
of tigers, polar bears and whales.
As on the jungle floor he gently snores,
the pangolin dreams of families at war.

Stuart A. Paterson, born 1966, lives by the Solway & writes poetry in English & Scots.. Winner of an Eric Gregory Award in 1992, most recently he received a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship from the Scottish Book Trust. ‘Saving Graces’ was published by Diehard in 1997 & he has recently had work featured in The Long-islander, Australian Poetry Journal, Gutter, Agenda & Scotia Nova: Poems For The Early Days Of A Better Nation (Luath).


(Image taken from:


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