Higgledy piggledy, zoologistically

Recently my mom sent me this link to a collection of “higgledy piggledy” (or “double dactyl”) poems. These poems are a bit like limericks, in that they are short, catchy, and usually silly. Since several of the poems were science-y, I thought I’d write some zoologically themed ones of my own. (I didn’t follow the form perfectly, but I did my best.)

Also: fear not, this does not mark the beginning of this becoming Katie’s Nature Poetry Blog. Tough Little Birds’ regular scientific programming will resume shortly.



High-soaring leglessness

floating through canopy:

fast transportation with

no way to brake.


he’s a mere glider but

anyway we say he’s

“flying,” this snake.


Parental nest defense

Junco hyemalis

ground-nesting sparrow bird

hopes its mammalian

predators rest;

else it must bank that ‘gainst

chipmunk monstrosity

pink-billed ferocity

proves to be best.


Sideways life

Upside-down clambering

vertical denizens

White-breasted Nuthatch and

sure-footed squirrel:

how many animals


see not up/down but di-

rectional whirl?


One species or five

Junco oreganus

if you like splitting, and

caniceps, aikeni—

what’s in a name?

Though it’s debatable


species or sub-, to the

birds, is the same.



Cognitive dominant

New Caledonian

avian Einsteinall’s

held in her head.

Pondering myst’ries of

time-space continuum,


begs for some bread.

11 thoughts on “Higgledy piggledy, zoologistically

  1. I love these! Especially impressed you were able to find so many double dactylic words–the hardest part, for me. “Self-depricatingly, New Caledonian, aerodynamically,” etc: who knew there were so many options? Traditionally the one-word line is the penultimate, but that’s really hard to do; so congrats on the Crow. Here’s another favorite, I think by John Hollander:
    Higgledy-Piggledy/ Archangel Gabriel / speaking of Satan’s /rebellion from God: / “Chap was decidedly /tergiversational /given to lewdness and / rodomontade.”

    • The double dactyls turn out to be pretty common; finding a word that’s a choriamb (“rodomontade”) for the verse-ending lines is impressive though!
      The main rules I broke were that the first line is supposed to be nonsense and the second line should be the name of the poem’s subject. If you believe Wikipedia, the one-word line is allowed to be line five, six, or seven, so I’m good on that score (except in “Parental nest defense,” where I don’t have any one-word line).

      Does anybody in the world have “tergiversational” and “rodomontade” in their working vocabulary? Shouting “What rodomontade!” at someone would probably get the general idea across, but “Quit your tergiversation!” would be impenetrable.

  2. Pingback: Double dactyls: African memory | kestrelart

  3. Pingback: More animal higgledy piggledy | Tough Little Birds

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s