Thursday, July 5, 2012

Poem of the Week: Renée Olander

Renee Olander
Photo credit: Helen Jones, 2009 

Rhinos Got No Luck           

Yesterday, a ten-year old newcomer to a zoo
Fought her new mate, broke
Out of her cage, and galumphed
Off zoo grounds, chased by three
Trucks of vets armed
With tranquilizer guns and one rifle--
And what sort of luck was it
That only the kill shot
Between the eyes could calm her?

And there were a pair of rhinos shipped
From Cleveland to China as a gift
Who died on the seventh day of their flatbed
Truck drive in one hundred degrees
Of dehydration. Until the zoo
Can find replacements,
They'll show the stuffed carcasses--
Cheaper than watering rhinos--
And there's profit from the magic
Horns, whose likenesses in wax
Convince from a distance.

And at my local zoo, one of two rhinos
Swallowed a racquetball
Which blocked its intestines,
And it died like dozens do a year--
Or was that the hippos?--
From balls tossed playfully
Into their confines (so maybe
You've even killed one yourself).

I know it sounds crazy,
But why can't I get the dry-mouthed rhinos
On a flatbed in China off my mind?
How they remind me of a little boy
Lost on his bike in the business district
Who asked me once for water
And what was his way home?

-Renée Olander

First appeared in MARGIE:The Journal of American Poetry. The St. Louis Poetry Center: Vol. 2, Fall 2004.  

Used by permission.    
Renée Ellen Olander is author of A Few Spells (Finishing Line Press, 2010). Her poems have appeared in Verse and Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics, HEArt - Human Equity Through Art, Artword Quarterly, Hawai'i Pacific Review: Best of the Decade, 5AM, The Café Review, 13th Moon, Snake~National~Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education National Poetry Month Blog, and others. Olander's interviews, reviews and essays have appeared in publications including The Writer's Chronicle.

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