Caution Exotic Animals
Deputies hunted down lions, bears and dozens of other exotic animals that
escaped after they were let loose by the suicidal owner of an animal

Imagine this, not gunshots, not the ending,
but the giraffe's blue-gray blade of tongue
nipping Ohio air, its neck a strung bow bending
out the rusted gate, that damp lung
of hillside exhaling fur and scat and rain
while the sulky tigers paw a muscular ballet
along the glistening stripe of motorway,
the jabbering monkey thumbs a soda can,
and the black bear trundles nowhere in particular,
eyes catching in the headlights of a car.
Imagine the first stunned moment of opened cage,
that ripple of sudden animal-joy, like rage,
not the moment quiet death appeared,
not the lion, asleep on his wet beard.

Joanna Pearson's poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2010, Blackbird, Gulf Coast, Literary Imagination, The New Criterion, River Styx, Subtropics, and elsewhere. Her first novel for young adults, The Rites and Wrongs of Janice Wills, was published in 2011. She lives in Baltimore. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761