My Cart 
Login 

This site exists for one purpose only: to help dispel the ugly myth that poetry is boring. Granted, a lot of poetry is boring, but you won't find it here. At Your Daily Poem, you'll find poetry that is touching, funny, provocative, inspiring, and surprising. It may punch you in the gut, it may bring tears to your eyes, it may make you laugh out loud, but it most assuredly will not bore you.

Poetry on YDP--by poets living and long dead, famous to completely unknown--is specially selected for accessibility and appeal. If you enjoy the site, please pass it along; there's a "Share" button below to make that easy. And if you'd like to add a bit of poetry to your life on a regular basis, use the "Subscribe" button at the left and we'll deliver a poem directly to your mailbox daily, every Monday, or once a month.

You're encouraged to comment on any of the poems you see featured here; a simple registration process will allow you to do that. Please bear in mind that Your Daily Poem attracts readers of all ages and mindsets; comments that are crude, insensitive, or inflammatory are unwelcome and will be removed.

Thanks so much for visiting. Content here is updated daily, so come back often or, better yet, become part of the YDP family and enjoy private commentary shared only with subscribers.

Remember: a poem a day keeps the doldrums away!




Horned Toads
by
Richard Schiffman

If they were about a thousand times bigger,
no one would think them cute anymore;
their unswerving reptilian stare might appear 
life-threatening rather than goofy and endearing. 
As it is, their antediluvian rock-like posture,
leathery dorsal spines, ashen-scaled underbelly, 
general lack of elan vital, not to mention ambition, 
good looks and animal magnetism, disqualify them 
from the World Wildlife Fund’s list of charismatic species. 
Still, they soldier on with all the squat charm of armored 
vehicles hunched between a bayonet yucca and a mountain sage 
awaiting lunch, or to become some raptor’s lunch--
whatever the next roll of the Darwinian dice ordains.
Poster children of the food chain, they never complain, 
just do their lizard pushups, swivel turret heads-- then wait. 
The toughest muscle in their body is the heat-seeking missile 
of the tongue. If you mess with horned toads, they’ll spit blood 
in your eyes. With two pinholes for ears, they can hear an ant
scurry from a foot away. Dust-colored, cold-blooded, gumby boy 
pterodactyls from the bottom of nature’s cracker jack box 
hugging their square inch in the sun.
 
 

This poem first appeared in the Atlanta Review.
Used here with the author’s permission.

 

 

Richard Schiffman splits his time between New York City and the Sangre de Christo Mountains of New Mexico, where his nearest neighbors are elk and horned toads. His poems have been published widely and a collection of them, What the Dust Doesn't Know, is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Richard is also the author of two biographies and an environmental journalist, because he feels that poems alone may not be enough to save the Earth.

 

 

 



Post New Comment:
Lori Levy:
Great images of horned toads!
Posted 07/02/2015 11:39 AM
transitions:
The toads look so Jurassic...mini dinosaurs still reproachful, unhappy to be so far down the 'food chain' when they once ruled the world. But, they still have Attitude and this poem covers it beautifully. Great imagery, much enjoyed!
Posted 07/02/2015 11:37 AM
transitions:
The toads look so Jurassic...mini dinosaurs still reproachful, unhappy to be so far down the 'food chain' when they once ruled the world. But, they still have Attitude and this poem covers it beautifully. Great imagery, much enjoyed!
Posted 07/02/2015 11:30 AM
Richard Schiffman:
Thanks so much for all these comments! Glad you enjoyed the poem. Actually horned toads do occasionally spit blood from their eyes. Here is a reference: http://www.onlinemathlearning.com/animalfacts-hornedlizards.html
Posted 07/02/2015 08:58 AM
paradea:
Love this!!
Posted 07/02/2015 08:24 AM
plgoodman:
I love the tongue-in-cheek tone of this poem. It's informative yet fun. Nice job!
Posted 07/02/2015 07:51 AM
mimi:
when I lived out there, seems to me the Navajo considered them a good sign...kinda cute little critters...
Posted 07/02/2015 07:38 AM
vscholtz:
This is a great tribute to these homely critters. Especially like "roll of the Darwinian dice".
Posted 07/02/2015 06:45 AM
Supa:
Beautiful well written poem. Sent me to you tube to look for horned toads. One small quibble. They don't spit blood in your eyes, the blood comes from their eyes. Loved the poem, anyway. Wonderful use of the English language.
Posted 07/02/2015 03:39 AM
Supa:
Beautiful well written poem. Sent me to you tube to look for horned toads. One small quibble. They don't spit blood in your eyes, the blood comes from their eyes. Loved the poem, anyway. Wonderful use of the English language.
Posted 07/02/2015 03:16 AM
Contents of this web site and all original text and images therein are copyright © by Your Daily Poem. All rights reserved.
The material on this site may not be copied, reproduced, downloaded, distributed, transmitted, stored, altered, adapted,
or otherwise used in any way without the express written permission of the owner.