Friday, January 15, 2016

When Lions Come

This appeared in Orbis.

When lions come to the door to drag you out
into the street, they won’t want elegy
or meditations on the Elder Breughel.
It’s commonsense and die with them: plain speech
is what they have time for. They’re not chimpanzees.

In camps, if you make it there, interrogation
occurs in prose, in real time, not in feet.
Elephants can do prosody; lions think
elephants have gone soft, wasting their gifts
on rumination, wallowing, and tusks.

Under the klieg lights lions want the truth.
They won’t even tell you, Soon you can go home.
Maybe they eye a haunch and hum a little.
Confess the truth and change for death: that’s all
the deal they offer, all they need to know--

lions don’t hope. They are. No note is sent
advising your next of kin you have been laid
with wildebeests and zebras in the pit
where herbivores accrue, praying, say lions,
they could be lions next. Not bloody likely.


Anonymous said...

Which issue?

Richard Epstein said...

Winter, 2001. If you want more conversation, stand and deliver your name.