Human/Otter Dictionary

Final NaPoWriMo prompt! And it is to translate a poem, but unfortunately there is no otter literature, so I have had to listen to the varied vocalisations of the giant otter and then make up some complete nonsense again. Giant otters have twenty-two distinct sounds, probably because they live in the largest and most complex social groups. They are also very stressed out by being in close proximity with humans.



I may not have lived among giant otters, but I have shared flats

with people I can barely tolerate. Their hastily-chosen, temporary

sexmates, on catching sight in a doorcrack of my solitary moshing,

have given just that strangled yip of laughter that would garner

a small dead fish from an alpha otter momma.


I have beaten wearily at floors and ceilings in the incoherent Morse

of the diurnal trapped among nocturnal experimental loop-pedallers,

whose weeeekrrrikkering dial-flip zzewstatic WAH interferenzzzzeee

resounded loud enough to alter the direction of hunting otter packs

as far afield as Lake Salvador.


I have nursed beers on window seats whilst macaw-hoarse flirters

make throat-back grokkle sounds in the crowded kitchen, tsip-tsip

their own drinks and then exit the yikkering, yipchuckling hodgepodge

to find a place to ‘be alone’. Through my wall I heard them,

little snouty buzzings, universal language of purr.


And yes, I have felt that wavering scream of isolation threaten

to come sailing out like a violin bow dragged ragged on a saw-edge,

though  I have been habitually considerate and kept the noise down,

at most emitted a pup-squeak like a balloon-dog having its neck rung,

but no otter ever answered.



One thought on “Human/Otter Dictionary

  1. ‘People I can barely tolerate’
    For someone living longish term in an Airbnb flat with the constant come and go, I feel your pain.
    Wonderfully written poem to express the bizarre and sawing sounds, the frustration. Doesn’t matter how quiet you are. Never will 😉

Leave a Reply

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

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s