the zoo of the unknown

This is altogether darker territory; a realm where animals are cyphers for what we don’t want to know.

Photo: Mike Visagie © www.mikevisagie.com

Photo: Mike Visagie © http://www.mikevisagie.com

Today
you visit the zoo of the unknown
those clawed and fanged things you captured wild
and dragged in one by one to be caged.

Today you feel strong enough
to eye them through the bars
and the soundproof safety glass
that stops you hearing them wail and howl
hunting for their freedom

You survey the broken ground
they’ve been digging tunnels, breaching underground  places
sniffing out all that buried shame
that tamped down stench of hidden pain
no one faces

Thwarted by his resentful mate
the wildcat is crimson furred, electric with hate
It’s feeding time; silently they fling themselves at your passing shadow
hungering for your recognition.
Isn’t that why you’ve come?
Guiltily you turn away.
You’re only here to check the security

Something sorrowful lurks, you haven’t spotted him yet
And he’s harmless anyway but those hyenas now
jostling doubt and futility between their jealous jaws
they look at you with sly desire
urge you to join them in their game of back and forth
an endless  distraction
you slide past them uneasily
nothing to do with you

Surprised,
fear slithers beneath your feet making you unsteady
You tremble and the wild things stir within
flexing their wings, their claws, their long insinuating tongues

Predatory. They keep to themselves what they know.
That they can take you where you need to go
but only if you meet them in the wilderness
let them razor you open, leave you gutted
your heart excavated
then go riding their backs
to get a bird’s eye view

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the eloquence of elephants

Living in a country where wild animals can still be experienced up close in their natural habitat allows them to enter our psyches and imaginations in a way very different from just seeing reproduced images of them.  This is the first of three poems:

Photo: Cian Small

Photo: Cian Small

Her trunk is an eye
a feeling intelligence
a far-seeing limb
of elegant eloquence
that somehow translates
into mysteriousness

For I can no more
think of her trunk’s curling grace
without feeling my
own phantom limb reaching
into my life its
unfolding – strange –  from my face.

One sees things anew
from an elephant’s trunk point of view.