LARB Lit: Giraffes

December 25, 2016   •   By Amy Gerstler









acting as if nothing terrible has happened

is a failed strategy you yell and this docility

has ruined and crushed us and afraid as I am

I cannot hold your vehemence against you

at this political moment as I watch you dig

your fingers into the rubble you’re sitting on

and you say maybe it’s impossible to believe

in politeness or civilization anymore and you say

complacency has bitten us with rabid hyena teeth

for being blind to the suffering of those we thought

were not like us at all and you say silence

and indifference have brought us this dead end

and you are fresh out of cheeks to turn

so from this day forward no more hiding in the attic

no more sheltering in place in the balcony or orchestra

as oboes tune up no more sublimating your rape

because the rapist was famous no more huddling

on the patio for comet-watching parties at 2 am

marveling as stars shoot across the hallowed blackness

now that the rain has turned to drops of molten glass

alas no more celebrating the chutzpah of elderly

sky divers only gallows humor now and vain attempts

to comfort the young whose inheritance we have

squandered the young who you insist are better

at comforting us with the sincerity of their terror

only last ditch activism you say will be coin of the realm

only tremulous toasts with booze you won’t save

for special occasions anymore only whispered salutes

to survival since powerdrunk clowns have taken over

the circus and loosed the lions exacting revenge

for being laughed at and that ancient mound

in the back yard you’ve thrown yourself down on

was once a thriving household archaeologists say

they learned this by analyzing their trash and these

ancestors painted pottery and kept cows and

composed songs and before that the dirt mound

you’ve repurposed as a weeping couch was just

a sneeze of rock vapor way out in space you’re going

to miss this earth you say how the sky turns smoky red

on some summer nights good ol’ planet earth home

of the meatball omelet home of media spin of whatever

bigoted muck humans dream up home of maidenhair

ferns dripping after a downpour home of snow and of

every kind of body and feeler and tentacle every manner

of sex and home of stately giraffes tame enough to eat

from your hand though that involves such a stretch

for them it folds them in half how do these treelike

creatures swoop their heads down so gracefully

bowing so low and in a weird voice I ask if you still

love me or can even think about that now and you

stare for a second and say in this bleak upheaval

that was never up for grabs so I’d like to reveal that

I went straight from our backyard to the zoo and

freed the giraffes and all the wronged animals and

conferred with them about government overthrow

but I haven’t done anything that revolutionary, yet


Amy Gerstler’s most recent books of poetry include Scattered at SeaDearest Creature, Ghost Girl, Medicine, and Crown of Weeds.