The Dirigible Balloon
Poetry for Children

Terrible Claw

In North America there lived
a little feathered fiend, whose name,
Deinonychus, means “Terrible Claw”
because, whilst nabbing heavy game,

it utilized its claws like sabres.
Each foot enjoyed a toenail keen
as hawthorn needles, snapping forward
like a consummate machine.

Hunting in packs for herbivores,
they’d spot one with their hawk-sharp eyes
then chase it down. A hundred million
years ago (the span defies

all comprehension) lived a creature
whose foremost feature was its toenails.
It kept them off the ground to keep
them honed. You bet they weren’t just show nails!

About the Writer

Martin J Elster

Martin J. Elster lives in Hartford, Connecticut. He was, for many years, a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In addition to playing and composing music, Martin finds contentment in long walks in the woods or the city and in writing poetry, which often alludes to creatures and plants he encounters on his walks. Martin’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. A full-length collection, Celestial Euphony, was published by Plum White Press in 2019.