Animal Farm

By Marcus Wicker b. 1984 Marcus Wicker
Consider the toucan’s festive gold breast.
Its multicolored pecker, oddly cutesy  
& perhaps, a cartoon-comfort
to the gym-roped Westerners
reclining on a beach in Costa Rica.
It’s the same old song: good-natured
smile, hard work, a hat’s off kind
of attitude & before you can say
post-racial, you’re a Resort Toucan.
The benefits are room & board
but the cost is blood. Most times
it’s the closest ones—birds
of the same rainforest, same
quadrant, same tree—who give up
your whereabouts to the jaguar.
Quick as you got the gig, the boss
is tossing you out on your ass
all over some flipped umbrellas   
& a tourist’s scarfed thumb. So now
you’re roofless, alone, vulnerable
& the beast is licking his chops
in your mirrored aviators. Stifling
too is the Midwestern Subdivision
in its treatment of the black squirrel.    
Science tells us black squirrels
have driven out native grey squirrels
in numerous areas, but no bullshit
in my development, black squirrels
are relegated to lots with a view
of the highway. Mornings
they work shade for acorns
between homes narrow as Lincoln Logs.
History tells us black squirrels
can’t afford robust landscaping
but will pay their mortgage—
chair the neighborhood watch
if you like. Slenderizing, their night
of hair. They’re sun’s prey.
They avoid overexposure, make tanning
trend. Black squirrels
they fit in, get along. Know no one.
They see other black squirrels & run.

Source: Poetry (November 2011).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2011
 Marcus  Wicker


Marcus Wicker was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is the author of Maybe the Saddest Thing (2012), selected by D.A. Powell for the National Poetry Series. His awards include a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, and The Fine Arts Work Center. His work has appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Oxford American, and many other magazines.

Wicker is the poetry editor of Southern . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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