Elephant Seal





Young elephant seals are having a go

advanced machismo

on the shores of the South Shetland Islands.


Their causeways gauge the beach

shingle and sand ridged and pushed aside

tank tracks of blubber sacks

a pile of huge brown slugs

pululating, fat wobbly belliglugs

peristalting up the shore

playing little boy games of push

me over if you can !


Raise chin, a wrestler's chest

high on great flippers,

swing side to side, judge your time

then thump him.

Who's a big boy then ?

They’re at it weeks at a time

getting bigger all the while

an elephantine adolescence.

Small fry dodge and weave,

equals fight it out, sharp teeth

scraping blubber padded flanks,

blood stains on the sand.


Behind the noise and flurry

girt mountain of a beast,

a stranded not-quite whale.

Nobody answers his roaring challenges

shovelling around, flattening the sand.

Future beachmaster,

sumo seal, clumsy dump truck

of the ocean shore,

Rolling Thunder

Champion of the ring.