Five Poems by Patricia Young

New Work


Homosexuality is seen in creatures ranging from bottlenose dolphins to female western gulls. – New York Times

Ten in the morning
and biological exuberance
runs riot in the animal kingdom.

Don’t you love the word exuberance?
Don’t you love the animal kingdom –

the peahen watching a peacock lift
another peacock’s iridescent blue-green skirt.

This is called plumage.
This is called the unsubtle approach,

brilliant colour
due to an optical
interference phenomenon.

Many eyes fan the grass.



A female ferret will literally die, if she can’t find a mate after going into heat. –

My auntie in heat, secreting estrogen into her blood
stream, poisoning her heart, depressing her bone
marrow, my pink-eyed auntie fades by the woodpile,
vocabulary diminished, reflexes shuttered, brain craving
light, immune system stymied. My dook-chirping,

party-girl auntie won’t drink from her dish, frisk
up the pole, swish her fat tail, keeps losing her rattle.
Auntie, auntie! Wake up. Your hair’s falling out.
Your vulva’s inflating. Your light bulb’s fizzled. You’re
a pit stop, an end game, a no-go. My once toe-nipping,

scruff-grabbing, snort-cussing auntie can’t steer her boat,
can’t push past the dock, my high and dry auntie, she’s land-
locked, she’s estrus-sick, she’s flea-bitten, she’s hob-pining,
libido-crazed, un-mounted, anemic! My auntie in heat, aching
wild lust, dreaming great sex, her womb a little bomb ticking.



No romantic, he warned me right off —
Cuckoo, hitch your wagon to this star,

and it’s a crow’s life, all dirty tricks
and rot-gut cuisine, snaffling up

the last slice of pepperoni pizza. Now
I’m stuck here, tree-high, nest-bound,

bored out of my violet-flecked head, but, hey,
someone’s got to do it, sit on these eggs.

Plunderers everywhere. Turn your back
and a blue jay will rob you blind. I don’t believe

in happiness but I do caw something
like joy when I see his glossiness pummeling

the dusk-sharp distance, I do weep
glad tears when he’s winging toward me,

banana or road kill clamped between his beak.
Love him or leave him? You tell me.

His cornfields and back alley dumpsters,
his thieving genius and high wire acts,

the showy, pyrotechnic stunts.
This life with this crow,

witty as a pickpocket, shiny as tin foil.
Oh my dark carrion, circling, circling.



In memory of the moeritherium, ancestor for the mammal order probosscidea, which includes all elephants.

Love? Ancient elephant love? Summertime swamp-love
when cool is cool and mud is mud? Semi-aquatic, straddling

the Eocene era? What sort of love? Love that feeds on
sea grasses, river-wading, freshwater, dreaming tusks?

Water-lumbering love when Egypt was a leafy canopy
to fan the blood? Intelligent love? Thick-skinned?

Pig-sized love unearthed in a desert oasis? Love that
bridged the gap but didn’t last? The future had a mind

for something bigger, weightier, love with a prehensile
upper lip that would stretch over centuries into a much longer

love. What brought us here if not the half-submerged,
amphibian love that stomped when it walked and slept

where it stood? Brought us where? Here. To the graveyard
of modern elephant love where all love comes to die.



The two male . . . penguins had . . . remained faithful . . . [until] Silo’s eye began to wander. – New York Times

True blue Roy bellies out of the water, waddles poolside and flops, heart breaking, it’s been breaking all day and now he knows why – Silo and Scrappy, girl shipped from California, now the feistiest penguinita in New York City – necks entwined! Fuck the leafcutter ant colony. Fuck the thick-billed parrot breeding program. So what if it goes bust. Gossip leaks through the glass walls, travels the trellised pergolas linking tropic and arctic. Someone always croaking like a monkey or mooing like a toad. Signs everywhere: Please, do not gawk at the pandas. Six years of chinstrap devotion. Of comb-and-paper-zuzzing cries, bowing and billing in the highest octaves. Roy can’t get over it, can’t raise his head, can’t go in there – the holding tank hurts – Silo and Scrappy bumping feather-dense chests as though there were no tomorrows or icebergs: stiff wings in a flap, beaks to the sky.

One Comment

  1. Victor Enns
    Posted May 16, 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Refreshing! At the end of a mind-numbing day at the office. Thank you!


Patricia Young

Patricia Young's latest book of poems is Summertime Swamp-Love (Palimpsest, 2014). She lives in Victoria, BC.