The Orchid and the Ostrich

Voice Card  -  Volume 20  -  Stuart Card Number 6  -  Tue, May 14, 1991 5:43 PM

This is ONE OF 3 responses to VC 19 John 14 ("The Ultimate Party")...

"Where should we sail to, do you think?"

I hope this isn't too forward or self centered, but John's query made me think of the latest children's poem I've recently penned. It is about a voyage, and was originally supposed to be part of the alphabet poems for children on which I was/am working (hence the plethera of "O" words in the poem), but the poem took on a life, or voyage, of its own.

I think it's a manuscript in its own right. It's also an attempt to write a more socially conscience / enviormentally conscience sort of poem than I usually write. Anyway, I present it here for your enjoyment, for better or for worse. I beg you ahead of time to excuse this indulgence. I dedicate this poem (of course!) to Kristin Nicole.

The Orchid and the Ostrich (don't forget to expand to text field to get the proper lineation of the poem)

Once on a day, a fabulous day
An orchid and ostrich sailed away.

     Into the sea towards the setting sun,
     They sailed away on an old onion,

     An old onion boat they forgot to peel
     That bobbed most terribly without any keel,
     Past the rocky coast with the sunning seals.

And as they sailed under the pinkish sky,
Their friends gathered to say goodbye.

There was an orbiting pig with one orange shoe,
An owl, and an eskimo outside her igloo.

     To the two sailors they were best of friends,
     And their father was an otter, and their mother a wren.

They waved goodbye, and they hooted and hollered,
As Orchid and Ostrich grew smaller and smallered.

Tiny specks in the distance far at sea,
They looked like two freckles far down on your knee.

     And as they bobbed on the water, and sang and swam,
     A sea turtle came by and served them ham.

     A nice ham dinner he served on his shell,
     Like a dinner plate that bobbed on the swell.

     And at night the moon shone onto the ocean
     Like a road that waved with a hazy motion.

     And down this road they made their way
     All that night and into the day.

Then Orchid saw something, a big commotion!
Something didn't look right on the blue, blue ocean.

     She saw a big boat, a boat called a tanker,
     A boat made of metal that goes "clank-clanker."

     Now the side of this boat is called a hull,
     And it keeps inside that stuff called oil.

     Tankers carry this stuff from place to place.
     It motors your car and sends rockets to space.

But accidents happen, as they sometimes will,
And tanker hulls break, and the oil spills

Into the sea, makes it black as night.
That's what Orchid saw. That's what gave her a fright.

     For this tanker was huge (as huge as a giant
     Who would use a tree for a tooth brush and not even buy it!)

     So when black heavy oil, that shadowy ghost,
     Oozed from this tanker, staining the coast,

     It was thousands and thousands of gallons let out,
     And you couldn't turn it off with spitgot or spout!

Oh it's bad enough to be ogled by oysters and their octopus hosts,
     But now oil oozes through Ostrich's feathery coat!
          And it's making him sink into this black, oily moat!

And oil seeps into Orchid's lovely petals,
For whatever oil touches, that's just where it settles.

It could glob all over your skin and hair,
You could wash it ten times and it'd still be there,

If oil would touch you, and I hope that it doesn't,
For there's just not one little speck of fun in it!

          But now let's go back to the ocean waves,
          To Orchid and Ostrich, who need to be saved.

          "Don't leave us!", cried Orchid, "Don't leave us alone,
          To drown far away from our parents and home!"

     And Orchid cried out, and Ostrich wept,
And over the sea their cries were swept

By the winds far off to where the land begins,
To where their friends were eating sardines from tins.

When they heard their cries they threw down their spoons
(And the rest was eaten by the passing moon).

For they heard their cries; their friends were in trouble,
So they flew off to save them holding on to a bubble.

But the bubble burst where the shoreline ends,
But you couldn't stop them, these best of friends.

     So the eskimo, owl, and the orbiting pig
          Rowed out to Ostrich and Orchid on an oatmeal box lid.

But the oil was evil. It wouldn't clean up
(And we're not talking about your room or washing your pup!).

     Oil covered the ocean, and it covered the land.
          Oil globbed the beach over with black sticky sand.

               "Goolurp!", "Gurlop'!", "Ooozeeooplop!", it said,
               "I cover up anything wherever I'm led!

          I coat the fishes' food, so they can't be fed.
          I make the bird's feathers as heavy as lead.
               "Goolurp!", "Gurlop!", "Ooozeeeooplop!", the oil said.

"I muck about the ocean with my black, heavy tread.
And when I leak from a tanker, it looks like it's bled

               Black blood far out, out into the sea,
               Once the water is stained with the likes of me!
               'Goolurp!', 'Gurlop!', 'Oooplop!', 'Ooozee!'

"Now here's an orchid and an ostrich who've fled
               In a boat made of onion, just up ahead.
Let's cover them in oil and make them dead!

          'Goolurp!', 'Gurlop!', 'Oooplop!', 'Ooozee!'
          Very few things are as sneaky as me!"

Just then the eskimo, the owl and the orbiting pig,
Who had rowed out to sea on a oatmeal box lid,

Pulled them out of the ocean, that's what they did,
By unraveling their socks into life ropes of thread.

          Then they all took oars, and they rowed with their might
As fast as they could through the oily night,

          That covered the ocean and made it foul,
          And made all the sea creatures weep and howl,
               The oil that makes all of us howl.

They finally rowed to where the sand was white
And the sun was shining, and the night was night,

          Was the night we know that's full of stars
          And planets with names like "Venus" and "Mars,"
          Where rocket ships fly shaped like huge cigars.

Now the oily night was far away,
So they slept through the evening into the day.

But the very next day, before the sun rose,
They woke up early and put on their clothes,

          And they brushed their teeth and had a bath,
          And they took some food and plenty of cash,

And they sailed once more into the ocean blue. . .
But that's another story, which I'll tell when I'm through.
          A story for you,
          Which I'll tell, when I'm through. . .