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The African jacana; or, Rhapsody in bluebeaks

Parent African jacana protecting chicks on river.jpg

         JMx Images, ‘Parent African jacana protecting chicks on river’

The thunder stuns the delta
each birdman builds a deck
and lilies swoon and swelter
through serenades of krrrek!


The lady stalks and sails
in robes of rufous hue
to find the fittest males
and form the season’s crew.


The decking rocks and settles
as clouds roll full and fast
the air is steeped in petals
around the first-mate’s mast.


The nest is ripe for rearing
the black-brown eggs are laid
and skreet! comes spiky cheering
for all the bluechicks made.

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Published on The HyperTexts, Spotlight, October 2021
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I composed a first draft of this poem in 2018 and returned to it in September this year. Since the beginning of 2013, I’ve been engaged as a freelance copywriter for a superb safari company called Yellow Zebra (YZ); and through producing content for YZ’s website, I’ve come to know all sorts of African wildlife.

The African jacana is among my favourites of the birds I’ve encountered on my e-travels. The adults are such a beautiful colour and the chicks are super-cute! The beaks are pretty cool too. I thought it might be fun to make up a poem about them; and it was indeedy. The sub-title (‘Or, rhapsody in bluebeaks’) is inspired by George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, a piece I listen to fairly often while at work.

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