The Whales

Putu comes up again for air
spraying sparkling water everywhere
her snout falls like a granite ship
passing the ice and its heartless grip

Kamik has gone under, certainly dead
two remain, but most hope has fled
the experts all crowd, hum and hah
the newspapers push the Greenpeace cart

All the machinery, all the ice-breaking stuff
all the helicopters, hovercraft, they’re not good enough
Our cousins, our equals are beginning to tire
as the greenhouse effect brings the end nigher

The icemen of Alaska come to the rescue
as the story drops from page one to two
They break the ice for four and a half miles
and talk to, and prod the exhausted mammals…

Thousands of miles away, in another ocean
a harpoon thuds home with a sickening motion
the carcass is later stripped and torn
and the blood pours across the floor

The Russians, the hypocrites, so full of reform
add to man’s mechanical swarm
two boats, dull copies of true sea creatures
make good copy for the News at Nine features

“They would have eaten them,” the WDSC say
and for their deliverance a few may pray
I wonder if humanity was cleaned from the Earth
whether or not the whales would hide their mirth

Siku, holding his dark deathly grin
comes up on a slant to breathe again
two miles to go and the grazes bleed
perhaps Kamik has found a different quiet sea…

It’s so sad, the news has spread
that man couldn’t save them, the whales are dead
and as we flick through to the TV page
the lonely great blue cries a scream of rage.


More classic heartfelt teenage poems will appear soon from couchmagpie! If you check the news from 1988 you’ll hopefully find details of the actual events. A less pessimistic version of what happened will feature in a follow-up poem I found alongside this effort.

Image credit: this spot on old-fashioned image was once again from the British Library image collection on Flickr.