Sunday, 3 December 2017

and some non-Newtonian spit

The Telling Toads project* continues to bring poems hopping in. I know there are stories growing as slowly as giant salamanders out there and hopefully by the end of the month there will be a hot, dry, dusty memory of a puddle for you all

Meanwhile, here are two pieces to get you hopping about. Like many poems, these are best spoken aloud, so try it and see how they sound. The first may charm, annoy or provoke - or maybe you will agree with Hilary’s sentiments completely - why not send us a reply! Mary’s villanelle is a beautifully constructed pattern of words that, yes, works wonderfully when spoken as long you don’t let your sticky amphibian tongue get caught up in its own non-Newtonian spit….
Both these works come from Keele at Silverdale in Staffordshire (best link for more information is through Caroline Hawkridge, the group's tutor). The Keele team also gave us an earlier set of poems: Ancient as the hills

feeling unloved?


… the toad, ugly and venomous,
Bears yet a precious jewel in his head.
As You Like It

Toad that under cold stone
….Sweltered venom sleeping got

I cannot like a toad –
he squats unbejewelled,
no venom sweltered, but ugly for sure:
a squashy, sludge-coloured purse,
baleful buddha,
squelchy, squalid,
blinking malevolently from under his cold stone,
tongue unfurling to flick in a fly,
his tentative akimbo tread
no match for a frolicking frog.
Try as I might, I cannot like a toad.

Hilary Adams


Toad’s tongue’s a crafty piece of kit
to catch the flitty or the maggoty
and works with non-Newtonian spit.

He shoots it out for a titbit,
whipped from his buccal cavity,
toad’s tongue’s a crafty piece of kit.

Spit thins at speed, and then the hit,
sticky when still, that is the strategy
and nature of non-Newtonian spit.

The prey might struggle, then she’ll quit,
we all must eat, it’s not depravity,
toad’s tongue’s a crafty piece of kit.

Back in his throat the bug will sit
(could be the cause of toad’s fatality)
packaged in viscous non-Newtonian spit.

But toad, to swallow, blinks a bit,
eyeballs press down and cause liquidity.
Toad’s tongue’s a crafty piece of kit
and works with non-Newtonian spit.

Mary King

*In this the Froglife Year of the Toad, here at Creeping Toad, I am inviting people to add their own creative ideas to a collection of Toad (and frog and tree frog,) stories and poems.  We hope people will share these beyond the blog where they will appear, to read them aloud, to tell the stories, declaim poems by ponds and generally celebrate Toads and their cousins.(But please do not publish them without getting formal permission through me first!)

More information about the whole project here: Telling Toads

Photo credits: from the top:
small toad edit: Ian MacLellan
toad in hollow: Gordon MacLellan
Ryvoan Toad: Kenny Taylor
small toad: Ian MacLellan

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