Sunday 23 July 2017

The first elegant hops

The first hops

Telling Toads poems:

the pond begins to fill

The first Toadwords are in. Telling Toads was set up as a slow hop to wonder but in the first month, the first poems came in. We hope you enjoy them and if you feel inspired to add your own toadwords (of frog’s tale perhaps!) look here for more information

The prints accompanying these poems are by artist Maria Strutz who had a wonderful touch for animal work….see more of Maria’s work here

Many thanks to Juliet and John for these first contributions!

Toad's Adventure
Juliet Wilson

We stopped to watch a tiny toad
struggle its way across the road.
When it found my partner's boot
it strangely chose to take that route.
It climbed the sheer black leather hill -
an effort of great strength of will
then found itself in the strangest valley
with ridges, holes and little alleys.
It gripped on tightly to the laces
then decided there were better places
for toads to find their living quarters
so off it went to find some water.

Now, 4 pieces from John Roff in South Africa
Ode to a toad
John Roff

O waddling lump of cold porridge,
bulging your way across the lawn like
you own it…
Why do you insist on invading my
barefoot garden privacy with that
lazy excuse of a hop?
At least you could have had the delicacy of
a smooth-skinned reed frog,
piping on the evening breeze like a water flute;
or even the swift, purposed elegance of
those green river frogs with the stripe down their backs.
But instead I must contend with amphibian arrogance,
wrapped in a slack skin of warts,
and entirely unsmiling.
I even found a toad in one of my gardening shoes once,
probably plotting the downfall of the human race;
I cannot stand them –

Second ode, same toad
John Roff 

Ah, beautiful harbinger of spring rain,
when your familiar croak returns
I know the seasons
are coming round.
You remind me of the ancient cycles,
after long dry winter
damp refreshing spring;
moist enough to soften your skin and
draw you out of hiding to
snaffle those annoying crickets in my lawn.
I love it when you gorge yourself on flying ants,
poetic in your punctuated hopping and
grab and
munch and

Thoughtful you look, a warted Buddha
contemplating the vast expanse of inner lawn,
round brown sack of happy toadness,
beautifully ugly,
content with the world.

Amphibotanical (South-Western Cape)
John Roff 

A frog is a frog, it lives in a bog,
A toad is a toad, in its soggy abode.
But why do they differ, and why is a frog?
Does it wonder, you think, as it sits in the bog?
And does the toad ponder, while perched in a pond,
"Why is my name toadish, and not 'Toad the Bond'?"
"I think I'd like 'Bond, yes - James Toady Bond',
special agent of termites and croaking and pond."
But up croaks the frog “Hey, I'm being left out,
my frogness ignored, and my ego put out."
"Now give me a title in keeping with Frog,
with Noble and Honoured and Valuable Frog."
"I'd like to be Emperor, Lord of the swamp,
the place where my tadpoles and bulrushes romp."
 So Bond (toad) and Emperor (frog) set a duel,
they'd wrestle and fight high above a dark pool.
Frog chose for his weapon a restio shoot,
Toad fought with a stout wachendorfia root.
 And strange, as they wrestled, they took on the look
of the weapon that each for the fighting had took.
Our toad became lumpy with growths like a root;
the frog grew as smooth as a shiny new shoot.
 So now when you see them, eyes bright in the pool,
and wonder if they are enjoying the cool,
Remember to look just a little bit longer,
and see if they've sorted out which is the stronger.

Tree frog
John Roff

They sit tight in the lit hours,
all waking as the sun gives way
to moons and bats and unseen whistling things,
then shrill their mating calls into the wind,
and awkwardly manoeuver, foot by foot
through all the tangled undergarden,
eagerly cruising trees for prey.
(What insect could escape the gaze
of that cool never-blinking eye?)

Bright day returns, and down they hunch,
a blob of wet amphibian-stuff clinging
to whichever branch seems right.

Once one gripped my fingers
just as though I was a tree,
with feet that flapped
the cool deliciousness
of living jelly on my eager skin,
then leapt ungraciously
onto the leaf-leaden forest floor below,
sat tight.


  1. Thanks for posting my poem! I enjoyed reading John's poems too, specially Amphibotanical which is fun to read!

  2. Haikode to the beginnings of Toad

    Elegant toadspawn
    Festooned from weed like bunting
    Aristocrat toads

    Frogs lay globulous
    Blobs discombobulous
    Toads think 'how common'