We are to blame for the decline of giraffes and only we can save them

Read the headlines aloud to your partner in
bed when your love life is losing momentum.

Tear the phone from his hands, the wool from his eyes
shake his shoulders, repeat “don’t you see?”

Get ready to go and decide on the spot
if, realistically, you’ll have time

for breakfast. Nothing has ever mattered
more than this. Perhaps you’ll pick something up           

on the way. Don’t be surprised if and when he says
“Wait, will you? Wait. I don’t think I’m coming.”

It’ll hit with the precision of a kick
in the teeth, if a round-toed boot                

was the kicker. Sad, really, when that’s just the sort
of shoe you would want to help a giraffe in.

Put down your backpack, then think better of it
and pick up your backpack again.

Say nothing, because what could come out of the blue
of your swollen mouth, empty stomach

and dumbness? Rip a wafer thin extract
of yourself and swallow. Remember to pack

     lip balm, sun-cream, two apples and a plum.            
     Breathe if possible and learn your ceiling:

lightbulb, damp patch, crack. Absolutely, yes,    
I bet he’ll say “look at me,” but you mustn’t,

do you hear? This is worse than him ogling
his ex’s stupid beautiful photos,

this is worse than breaking your noble heart.   
This time, it’s global, you told him, it’s urgent,

there are nine islands of giraffes left in the wild.
But he’d be aware if he’d been listening.

Say nothing, because all you know now
for certain is lightbulb, damp patch, crack,

and he won’t understand. You should turn on your heel
and go to your brother’s. You’ve missed your brother so much.

If he asks any questions, tell him you wanted
different things (you can say that again)

with regard to the giraffes and without,
but he won’t ask any questions, you know.

• • •


We missed a rabbit hole by inches as if
by magic that day galloping at one hell of a clip

along the clifftop from Shalcombe to Freshwater
and had we fallen we would really have fallen

his leg broken and maybe mine too            two birds     
in flight felled by one fine faulty bone but we missed it

by a hare’s breath and is it any wonder     
when the land made way for a whale in its coastline    

and stores its dinosaurs underground for safe-keeping
but takes them out onto the beaches when the weather is fine

I can’t explain the homescape but imagine it often
describing where I’m really from to anyone who’ll listen

searching high and low for any kind of wilderness
with little or no joy so far                    

but that day even the hang-gliders could not keep up
with us try as they might kicking their feet behind them

in the air I’m telling you the gorse-bushes
flowered as we jumped them and when we saw the woods

ahead and the trees slowed us down we came to
a standstill and the low mist mixed with the steam

from the sweat on his neck and we were not tired
we were only ethereal and we have never been further