The Animals are Leaving

By Charles Harper Webb
One by one, like guests at a late party   
They shake our hands and step into the dark:   
Arabian ostrich; Long-eared kit fox; Mysterious starling.

One by one, like sheep counted to close our eyes,   
They leap the fence and disappear into the woods:   
Atlas bear; Passenger pigeon; North Island laughing owl;   
Great auk; Dodo; Eastern wapiti; Badlands bighorn sheep.

One by one, like grade school friends,   
They move away and fade out of memory:   
Portuguese ibex; Blue buck; Auroch; Oregon bison;   
Spanish imperial eagle; Japanese wolf; Hawksbill   
Sea turtle; Cape lion; Heath hen; Raiatea thrush.

One by one, like children at a fire drill, they march outside,   
And keep marching, though teachers cry, “Come back!”   
Waved albatross; White-bearded spider monkey;   
Pygmy chimpanzee; Australian night parrot;   
Turquoise parakeet; Indian cheetah; Korean tiger;   
Eastern harbor seal ; Ceylon elephant ; Great Indian rhinoceros.

One by one, like actors in a play that ran for years   
And wowed the world, they link their hands and bow   
Before the curtain falls.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Charles Harper Webb. Reprinted from “Amplified Dog,” by Charles Harper Webb, published by Red Hen Press, 2006, by permission of the author and publisher.

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Poet Charles Harper Webb

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Nature, Animals, Philosophy

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Charles Harper Webb

Biography

Charles Harper Webb is the author of Shadow Ball (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009) and Amplified Dog (Red Hen Press, 2006). He earned a BA in English from Rice University, an MA in English from the University of Washington, and an MFA in professional writing and a PhD in counseling psychology from USC. He teaches at California State University, Long Beach.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals, Philosophy

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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