Running on Two Legs


When you say “Roadrunner,” most people think of Wile E. Coyote’s opponent –

beep! beep!

Here’s what they actually sound like:

The real Roadrunners (‘Greater’- Geococcyx californianus and ‘Lesser’- Geococcyx velox) are among the fastest things on two legs, reaching speeds up to 26 miles per hour.

Collared Lizard

The Collared Lizard (Crotaphytus collaris) also runs on two legs, getting up to 16 miles per hour.

At the Bomb Testing Site

by William E. Stafford

At noon in the desert a panting lizard
waited for history, its elbows tense,
watching the curve of a particular road
as if something might happen.

It was looking at something farther off
than people could see, an important scene
acted in stone for little selves
at the flute end of consequences.

There was just a continent without much on it
under a sky that never cared less.
Ready for a change, the elbows waited.
The hands gripped hard on the desert.

These sprinters are at home in the Southwestern deserts. You can watch both of them in these videos (the collared lizard follows the roadrunner) :


“At the Bomb Testing Site” from  Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems, © 1960 by William Stafford – Graywolf Press —


  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Great Basin Collared Lizard – photo by Gary Nafis

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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4 Responses to Running on Two Legs

  1. Probably a distant descendant of the Velociraptor (Velociraptor mongoliensis) which was a pretty speedy critter in its own right. Paleontologists estimate it could run about 40mph (60kph).

    Wile E. Coyote would have had the tables turned for sure if he had encountered this six-foot long Roadrunner.

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    Even the smaller version beat Wile E. time after time.

    The real Roadrunners are pretty fearless – they’ve been known to take on rattlesnakes!

  3. ann summers says:

    targets of the Acme Industrial Complex

  4. wordcloud9 says:

    LOL! Run fast, little guys

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