Penguin Awareness Day

January 19th was Blue Monday, the day when we’re all supposed to be at our saddest. It’s followed, on January 20th, strangely enough, by Penguin Awareness Day. I didn’t don a tuxedo or otherwise dress in black and white, nor did I tell penguin jokes (as it’s suggested you might), but I did write a poem. To be honest, I’d never heard of the event before, but it came up at our writers’ night on Thursday, and this is what resulted. I suppose I should apologise to Wallace Stevens for the title, but I don’t think I will.

The Emperors of Ice

That feeling of flying
in a medium thicker
than mere air

that feeling of not knowing
how cold can hurt
if feathers fail, or fat thins

that feeling of seeing season
as either all dark
or all light

that feeling of hunger
suppressed for the needs
of an egg, of a chick

that feeling of fear
of the leopard seal
in a dim blue ambush

that feeling of fullness
stuffed and overstuffed
before the long ice trek

that feeling of belonging
in this howling waste –
that’s penguin feeling.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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7 Responses to Penguin Awareness Day

  1. deemikay says:

    How bizarre… do we need to be any more aware of penguins? Wouldn’t something that didn’t have a chocolate bar named after them be more worthy? Something like Curlew Awareness Day?I liked this – “not knowing / how cold can hurt / if feathers fail”

  2. BarbaraS says:

    I do like this a great deal – it’s unexpectedness carries the whole poem to that end – how do they survive? They just do 🙂

  3. Tommaso Gervasutti says:

    Dear Colin, this is really, really great, I really enjoyed it. I have posted a poem lately in my blog too, an old poem answering another blog.And I have been also continuing in the last that kind of possible debate -as Crafty Green Poet had defined it- on wanting to be published eyc.I really enjoyed in particular “the howling waste”, a superb “cry” centred in the end…

  4. Sorlil says:

    I really enjoyed this as well, lovely music and I really like the title.

  5. Colin Will says:

    deemikay: thanks for commenting. I was going to call it Pick up a penguin, but I resisted.Barbara: I’m very fond of penguins, but I never thought I’d write about them.Davide: Many thanks. I’ll catch up with your blog.Sorlil: I’m teaching schoolchildren the use of repetition for rhythmic effect when they write poems, so it must have rubbed off on myself.

  6. apprentice says:

    Lovew the repetition of “that feeling” – I suppose much of a penguin’s life indeed all life is based on experiencing something and then knowing exactly what it is the nezxt time it comes along. I’m glad it’s the male penguins who have to stand with an egg between their toes for however many months it is – it redresses the balance quite a bit i think, that and male seahorses.

  7. Colin Will says:

    In marmosets and tamarins, in our own branch of the family tree, the male plays a large part in bringing up babies, handing them back when they need to suckle. If the mothers feel they’ve had enough, they nip the weans to get them to go back to daddy.

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