Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Escaped Animal Narrative

Here’s how it goes: a gorilla,
A tiger, a rhesus monkey,
A cassowary, a hippo—

One time, a ginormous giraffe—
Is either reported missing
Or spotted in someone’s backyard.

The story makes the local news.
If the beast stays loose long enough,
If the scenes are scary or cute,

The narrative goes national.
Anchors banter. There may be time
For jokes on the late night talk shows.

And then, the animal is caught
And returned to its zoo or pen
Or presented to a shelter,

If the owners are delinquents.
Sometimes, the animal is shot,
And then the jokes turn somewhere else.

It’s not really much of a plot.
Sometimes, it delivers chase scenes—
Sometimes, a bit of mystery

If the animal’s gone to ground.
What is the appeal of this tale?
Sure, it might be the thrill of wild

Encounters in suburbia,
Might be the pure absurdity.
Might it not be people watching

Are also secretly rooting
For self-domesticated selves
To break free from their human hells?

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