Choosing a pet can be vexing and yet
it’s important to vet all the choices you’ve got.

If you’re in search of a pet who will perch
on your silver white birch, it’s the best of the lot.

Dactyls are clever as hunters and never
go hungry whenever they’re ready to eat.

Not just a yard bird, the dactyl’s a guard bird
and, as such, a hard bird for others to beat.

Its beak and claws will make trespassers pause
and give cat burglars cause to look elsewhere for loot.

Dactyls obey each command that you say.
Thus, it’s rarely that they must be given the boot.

Next thing to do is decide whether you
are inclined to own two, since the choice may be hard.

Two pterodactyls (and I will be tactful)
would be quite impactful when cleaning the yard.

Dactyls like dating, the joys of relating.
It’s alienating to live all alone.

Dactyls may mope if you force them to cope
with the loss of all hope for a love of their own.

Dactyl romance should be given a chance
so I’ll offer my answer, precise and succinct.

Always buy two, otherwise it is you
who, without meaning to, help make dactyls extinct!



Mark F. Stone grew up near Seattle, Washington. After graduating from Brandeis University and Stanford Law School, he worked as an attorney for the United States Air Force for 33 years. He served 11 years as an active duty Air Force JAG attorney. He then served 22 years as an Air Force civilian attorney (while serving part time in the Air Force Reserves as a JAG attorney).  He began writing poems in 2005, as a way to woo his bride-to-be into wedlock.  He recently retired, giving him time to focus on poetry. He lives in central Ohio.




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37 Responses

  1. Benjamin Daniel Lukey

    Mr. Stone,

    Your poem made my morning, and I suspect I will have the tactful/impactful line stuck in my head for days. The whimsical style and clever rhymes are reminiscent of the best of Shel Silverstein. Bravo!

  2. Joe Tessitore

    A tapestry of rhyme, with a healthy dose of humor added to the mix!

    A pleasure to read!

  3. James A. Tweedie


    After reading your poem . .

    Petrarch would likely be scratching his head,
    And Milton would probably roll over dead.
    Donne would have seizures and gag or else choke,,
    And Tennyson probably misses the joke.
    But Shakespeare, I think, would just laugh and say, “Here,”
    “Let’s pop in the pub and I’ll buy you a beer!”

    What a wonderfully odd contortion of the English language and marvelously amusing distraction from reality. And the most side-splitting thing about the poem is that you wrote it in dactyls!

    • Mark F. Stone

      James, I was reading about dactyls in the book Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer. I decided to try my hand at a dactylic meter poem, but I needed a subject matter. Pterodactyls seemed like a logical choice! And I love your poem, by the way. Mark

    • Mark F. Stone

      James, Thank you for hosting the SCP-sponsored poetry reading at Bryant Park in Manhattan last June. You were a very polished, erudite and witty emcee, and I enjoyed reading the poem at the event. I’m glad you like the poem. Mark

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dactylic rhyming couplets, with internal rhyme in the first line! Great work, Mark.

    • Mark F. Stone

      Professor Salemi, Thank you. I very much appreciate your assessment. V/R. Mark

  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    Excellent, Mark
    I hope to see this as a kids’ book in a year or 2.
    Good luck with an agent if you don’t have one. I need to find one who’ll like my “Terrafractyl,” which I’m hoping will be out online early next year.

    • Peter Hartley

      Mark – This is certainly one among the half-dozen or so finest paeans in praise of the Terror Dactyl that I have read in recent weeks, and given suitable names for the creatures in question this poem would knock Lear and Carroll into a cocked heat. If I might venture a single hint of animadversion you might have given slightly more weight to the indulgent and affectionate nature of this bird (or lizard) towards humankind and rather less to its usefulness a a guard dog. But this is only a minor blemish, for me, in a magisterial epic that flows well with a clever use of dactyls and internal rhyme.

      • Mark F. Stone

        Peter, I am gobsmacked by the generosity of your comments. I also enjoyed reading your comments because it’s good for me to learn new words. If I decide to expand the poem, or try to turn it into a children’s book, I’ll keep in mind your wise ideas (naming the pterodactyls and highlighting their affection toward humankind). Thank you again. Mark

    • Mark F. Stone

      Julian, A children’s book is a great idea (although I have no clue on how to start on this process and I don’t have an agent). I’d love to read your “Terrafractyl.” Is it available anywhere? Thanks again for commenting. Mark

  6. Sally Cook

    Then Is the Archeo is first cousin to the Pterydac or are they one and the same? Some questions never seem to get answered. but I must say you have done poetic justice to the petodactyl and the teryx.

    Yikes !!

    • Mark F. Stone

      Sally, I’m afraid that I’m not familiar enough with the pterodactyl to confirm who is cousin to whom. I probably should be at this point. Nevertheless, I do appreciate your kind comment! Mark

    • C.B. Anderson

      Two different animals, Sally. The Pterodactyl (which means, roughly, wing fingers, is a dinosaur. The Archaeopteryx is supposedly a transitional form between reptiles and birds, but it is no longer believed that any birds are actually descendants of this creature.. You can check that out.

  7. David Watt

    This is a witty and imaginative piece. The spill over of internal rhyme to a second line reminds me of Poe’s technique. Well done!

    • Mark F. Stone

      David, The AAAB/CCCB rhyme scheme is definitely a fun one. Thank you for your kind words! Mark

  8. Monty

    I’ll never forget the very first time I read Poe’s ‘The Raven’: it positively blew my mind. I’d never before encountered such a generous use of internal-rhyme, and I spent the next hour or so constantly re-reading it until my awe subsided.

    I imagine that if I’d never before encountered ‘The Raven’, I’d be sat here now in a similar state of awe after reading your technically-dexterous piece above. How resourceful of you, Mark, to employ this method of poetry to accommodate such an unusual, imaginative subject-matter.

    High class stuff . .

    • Mark F. Stone

      Monty, I am also a big fan of “The Raven.” I very much appreciate your thoughtful and generous comment. Thank you for stopping by! Mark

  9. James Sale

    Ha ha ha!!! Some coincidences are just too exquisite: of course Mark read The Raven – with others of us – in Bryant Park! So big fans indeed – along with Pterodactyls!

    • Monty

      I dunno if ya’v seen it or not, but in the last cuppla daze I finally got round to reacting to your (and Mr Grein’s) comment under the Theresa Rodriguez poem ‘New Day’.

  10. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This huge grin of a poem is a cleverly crafted, thoroughly entertaining, imaginative, inspirational joy! It speaks to my inner child while challenging my creative leanings to lean a bit further. Wonderful!

  11. Anissa Gage

    Mr. Stone, it’s impossible for me to sound appropriately witty and erudite. This was adorable! I can’t stop giggling. And in dactyls! And Mr Tweedie’s rejoider! Oh my! I’ll be laughing for hours!

    • Mark F. Stone

      Anissa, I’m very pleased that you enjoyed the poem. Thank you for commenting. Mark

  12. Cyrus J

    A poem about pterodactyls written in dactyls? It doesn’t get much better than that. Excellent work! I envy your skill.

  13. health issues

    There are many things you can do to prevent exposure to plague, including using insect repellant, avoiding contact with sick or dead animals and keeping their pets away from these animal/their nests. We encourage flea prevention for pets as well. Fortunately, people and domestic animals in Arizona are rarely infected with plague.


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