A donkey brayed and scared his mother witless

when she was shopping weeks before his birth.

The fell results had prompted one keen witness,

seeing child and mother lying south of Perth,

to venture that vampire bats would be scared shirtless

at ears like these, each one of which could girth

Paul’s baby wrists or circumscribe his head.

‘It’s asinine,’ a watching wizard said.


See Paul, a wizard swimmer: his ears trail

his head like lampreys homing on a shark.

Ashore, the child’s otology entails

such friction that his ear fur starts to spark

and constitutes a danger to the rail,

the curlew, and the tern docked in the park.

This gets Paul banned from summer in the bush

and forced into the city, on his tush.


His exile to the city in the summer:

Paul spent his nights awake up on the roof

aspiring to an honest trade, or plumber.

Impervious to the rains, ears waterproof,

he tried to get a thing on with a slummer

but she, one look sufficing, stood to hoof

it while she screamed, ‘you spacey bat-eared prevert!’

This wasn’t right. Paul heard that, and it hurt.


Paul slipped his Perth at seventeen, in April,

and journeyed to Canaveral in a Greyhound

he had boarded in Hoboken, where a shrill

but prudent maid made haste to look around

for other transport, leaving Paul’s lank build

collapsed across both seats. Incoming sound

from pointing fellow passengers had kept

his ears and spirits down. He’d cried and slept.


Brown pelicans awakened Paul on the asphalt

where Greyhound’s own SecureCorps personnel

had lain him while he slept closed as a vault.

The pelicans were scuffling for a shell

Paul brought from Perth, when with a somersault

he gained his feet and their attention fell

while nearly-human eyes espied his feat:

a Cocoa bunny girl who yelped, ‘That’s neat!’


Paul gaped as she approached him, hand on hip,

this sunny girl who, taking off her shades,

revealed mammalian eyes that made him flip

his mammoth ears and fan the lemonades

in her brown hands. Sweat dewed her rabbit lip

and Paul was pole axed. Not since gasconades

of mermaids mesmerised him on the Reef

had Paul’s three ventricles shown bas-relief.


‘That’s swell. I’m Gert-Anne. Grapevine tipped your ship.

That runny gull’s a poached hen. Fook off. Hades!’

the star-tanned bunny yelled, ‘And here’s a tip,

not of a tail, I don’t have one, that some Ganges

dude gurus taught me bathing there last trip:

“Keep both your socks on.” Here comes our Mercedes.’

Paul looked up at the nearing car in wonder

as exhaust smells mixed with asphalt made him chunder,


or would have, had the chauffeur not extended

breath mints to boy and girl and to the pelicans.

As he bundled Paul and Gert-Anne in, and fended

the birds off, Paul, who knew from films Republicans

had limousines like this with big extended

antennas, air-cos, and gilt jerry cans

of champagne punch, had felt himself au fait.

The engine started smoothly, pulled away.


‘You rabbit giants: wave nothing but your ears

and keep the carpets clean,’ a burly man

Paul hadn’t seen sat up. The man appeared

as large in the dark car as a small van.

At these harsh words young Paul burst into tears.

‘I’m far too young to be well hung. The span

for hanging me still not has been erected,’

he sobbed, first growing tired and then dejected.


In too few hours the limo brought them down

into Fort Myers with all the faux cachet

high flyers favour. Spinning them around

and gliding gator-like onto the causeway,

the chauffeur said, ‘Here’s Sanibel, low ground

with prices higher than a possum, day

and night left on the roadside in the heat.

It’s a corking place you space spies chose to meet.’


‘Spies!’ the boy brayed through his chittering teeth.

« Comme ci comme ça,’ Gert-Anne said, twitched her haunches.

They stopped for gas, the big man bought a wreath.

They all got out and gawked at sun-fired launches,

the yachts, a U boat, smalls of Teddy Heath,

and spotted tourists whose protruding paunches

were purpling well and burbling on hermetic-

ally, as soft-shelled crabs went pre-emetic.


‘Come on,’ the big man said, ‘I see the bonefish

skiff we’ve chartered for your one-way ride.

It’s fast enough but lacks a decent nav dish

but I can steer by sight and with the tide

we’ll slip by those magnolias with a swish

and before the Commies spot us you’re inside.’

Paul knows it’s ‘mangroves’ from his travel books

and fears he’s been abducted by dumb crooks.


His danger is much greater: these are scientists

and they’ve selected him, also Gert-Anne,

to help a powerful ruler’s plot to twist

opinion, force the UN’s averse hand

to start Mars terraforming. He’ll assist

as will the others lined up on the sand

or be fed to the crabs assembling wide

of the crocs and gators on the other side.