Original Poem #5

Because the photo caption won’t show up on my theme: TL Rhino (Photo by Glen Carrie), TR Sea Turtle (Photo by Olga Tsai), Mid Elephants (Photo by Tobias Adam), BL Tiger (Photo by Frida Bredesen) & BR Orangutans (Photo by Fabrizio Frigeni). I sourced all these photos from Unsplash. I’m also afraid the collage shows up better on a phone screen so apologies to any desktop readers!

Mummy, What Is This?

“Mummy, what is this
Enormous creature
With a long nose
That looks nothing
Like a tree? That has
Two great, big
Horns on its face
And can carry
More than three?”

“That, my love,
Is an elephant.”
I answer,
Pointing at the
Picture they have
Shown me.

“Mummy, what’s this
Fluffy, furry creature
That climbs in the trees
Like other kinds of
Monkeys? It’s got two
Long arms, makes kissy
Faces and funny
Orange hair like
Mr Humphries.”

“Oh, dear child,
That is an
Orangutan. It is
A different type of
I chuckle at their

“Mummy, this one
Has orange fur too
But it doesn’t look
Like a monkey.
It has black stripes
Too and big white
Whiskers. It looks
More like a big kitty.”

“You are right,
My Darling,
This is a type of
Big cat – they
Call him a Tiger.”
A woeful smile
Crosses my face
As I remember,
“We saw one
In a zoo, when I
Was your age.”

“Mummy, look!
It’s a short Elephant
With one big horn
On his nose but
No long snout.
Why does he look
Different to the
One before?”

“Oh, sweetie,
That is not an
Elephant. That
Is a different
Kind of mammal
Called a Rhino.”
I question why
I gave them
This book.

“Mummy? What
About this? It’s
Green with a big,
Brown shell
And lives in the
Sea. Mummy, look
At how blue the
Sea looks! Can you
And me go to this sea?”

“My baby,
That’s a sea turtle.
And we can’t go
To that sea…You
Have school.”

And that sea
No longer exists.

Can we go to
The zoo again?
Like you said
You did? Then
I can see
Them too?”

“We can’t,
They don’t
Have those

Where did
They go?”

They all died.
A long time
Ago now.

Took and
Killed what
Was not theirs,
For the bones
And skin as
Of their prey.
Injured the
Creatures so
That they
Could not
Recover, and
Left them to
Die once they
Had taken the
Animal’s most
Prized possession.

World leaders
Didn’t listen
To those who
Fought for
Of real world
Problems like
Climate change
And global
Warning us of
Pollution and
Explaining how
We could reduce
Carbon emissions.
They laughed at our
Extinction rebellion
But, my baby, please
Know we did try and
Fight for the change.

And that beautiful,
Big, blue sea that you
Saw, is no longer there.
Our oceans are black
With economic greed
And choked by
Plastic packaging
And the animals
That lived there
Live there no more.
We tried, my sweet,
To fight in this war,
To protest for protection
Of our planet’s future
But we were not
Loud enough
Quick enough
Stern enough
To sway others’



Where did
They go?”

They didn’t leave.
They didn’t magically disappear.
They weren’t taken.

They were killed.

By the older generations’
Ignorant way of life
And by the greed
Of those in power.

But this was not
The future
We wanted.
What I wanted
Was for my child
To know and to see
These amazing animals
For themselves.
Instead they
Are clueless
To what destruction
Has been done
To our environment
And ecosystems and
I find my child
Asking me
An Elephant is
An Orangutan is
A Tiger is
A Rhino is
A Sea Turtle is –
What are they?

“They’re extinct.”

– Jade V.J.

Well, if you made it this far, this was my second (and last – RIP being a ‘youth’) entry to this year’s Orwell Youth Prize!

I didn’t place this year but that’s okay! I’m happy enough with the personalised feedback I received on my piece 😊

Please check out the winners and runners-up’s pieces (< linked) because they are all amazing!

So, a little bit about the poem: I guess this counts as a dialogue poem(?). It follows a brief conversation in a potential future between a mother and her child as they look through an old animal picture book. The animals mentioned in the poem – an elephant, orangutan, tiger, rhino and sea turtle – are all animals that are currently endangered. In this future however, these animals have been extinct for long period of time. Internally, the mother reminisces, explaining what happened and apologises for being unable to do more.

It’s a scary thought that one day there could just be no more of one species of animal. Just imagine never, ever seeing polar bear again, or a panda, or any of the other animals mentioned above. What if you had to explain what a penguin was to your own child (the ‘what if’ that inspired this poem)? It’s a horrible thought.

Of the species mentioned in the piece:

  • Around 3900 Tigers remain (Endangered)
  • Around 8000 Hawksbill Sea Turtles remain (Critically Endangered)
  • Around 14000 Sumatran and around 104700 Bornean Orangutans remain (Critically Endangered)
  • Around 67 Javan, 100 Sumatran & 3555 Greater One-Horned Asian Rhinos remain (Critically Endangered)
  • Around 5200 Black and 20000 White African Rhinos remain (Critically Endangered)
  • Around 4000 Sri Lankan, 31000 Indian and 40000 Sumatran Asian Elephants remain (Critically Endangered)
  • Around 415000 African Elephants remain (Vulnerable)

It’s a lot of information to take on board but if you are interested in finding out more, I got these facts from the WWF website (< linked). You can learn more about who they are, what they do, where they operate, donate and even ‘adopt’ one of the endangered animals to support the charity (tigers and jaguars need funding in particular at the moment).

So many of these beloved creatures need help to be kept safe from pollution, poaching, habitat loss and more. I’d hate to see a species die out in my lifetime 😦

I hope you found the poem as thought-provoking as I intended it to be ❤


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