The Giraffes Escape

Promenading down the boulevard, that early
June morning in Amstelveen, down
Piet de Winterlaan, miles away
from the circus pitch before the trainers
have caught on - we see the vista

from our coffee room window,
a splendid procession bridging the street –
fifteen camels, two zebras, a clutch
of llamas, a shuffle of elephants,
and loping in the lead, the giraffes.

Having kicked down the gates as if you were
at Mt. Ararat, still waiting for those pigeons
to return, not knowing if they even would;
fenced in from all sides without the sight
of sun or sky or boundless savannah;

huddled together in eighty square feet
of sweltering cabin-space; surrounded
by the spoor of lions, the howl of
cheetahs, the baying of wolves,
the ominous stare of vultures.

All this, for interminable days and
interminable nights, hardly getting any sleep,
with the hippopotamuses hogging the haybales,
the terrapins nipping at the trough,
the koalas stingy with the eucalyptus.

Something snaps, and suddenly
there you are, kicking at the cubicle,
loosening the boards, behind you the cries of
Shem, Ham, and Japheth as they try to wake
their father from blissful oblivion.

But none of that matters, none of it but for that
moment when the barricade falls, when you are
striding across the veldt, past office stalls,
through diluvian wave, when you are -
for that first, magnificent moment – free.


  1. Grenhilda8:14:00 AM

    Nice, and happy!

  2. This one is, indeed, a departure. Maybe I missed something, though I've re-read... why the shift from third person to second in the sixth stanza?

  3. Anonymous8:28:00 PM

    Painful and surreal are these images like a Kafka nightmare, yet do they in fact mirror the human dilemma. Say it isn’t so. Thank you for the dreamscape.


  4. Anonymous10:39:00 PM

    Felt where hoove and paw roamed. Freedom unconfinement... splendid delivery.

  5. Good obervations! The shift in perspective actually happens in an earlier stanza, when the observer begins to inject his own subjective reading of motive into what was previously, essentially, reportage. In saying 'you', the observer, trapped in his own office world, is actually talking about himself and his own yearnings.

  6. It was so hard not to identify with the animals in that article. your poem really made me think how routine can be both a cage and a comfort. I love "coffee room window" gives a sense of romantic-routine And I love that you end with the word free... I felt a great sadness and hope in this piece. Very lovely

  7. Hmmm, I think it's terrific too, but find it quite dark really: free only for "a single, incomparable moment". (Not that that's a criticism.)

  8. Amazing!! I"m in awe..and though I still try not to put myself down I clearly have NO RIGHT to call myself a POET.

  9. Thanks all. I've read poems by nearly everyone who's posted comments here - including Angela - where I thought, "Gosh, I wish I'd written that!" So there.

  10. Short link -

  11. haha i love the allusion to the ark and all the animals...ack that is the work place for sure...and being able to escape even if just for the weekend after feeling trapped all week...feeling you man...smiles...

  12. I love the progression of this poem and the ending with FREEDOM! Something everyone (and every animal) yearns for.

  13. very cool metaphor sam...working life can get just like this...surrounded by wolves in small cubicles..and then the breaking that you work Shem, Ham, and Japheth in as well...and yeah...the breaking free in the end...great!

  14. great vision in this one Sam! To see out of the window and see the rest of the Animals making there way to become trapped in those office a horsestall?..just waiting for that moment when freedom is granted and the doors open to the wild plains of freedom! Imspired stuff...and i have felt myself kicking at that office cubicle on more than one occasion myself (in fact- most days! Ha ha) I actually think that some of our modern 'commercial' or 'corporate' areas are actually not that far away from being zoo-like- stampede for the subway- feeding frenzy at midday....this was excellent sam...

  15. Loved the imagery. I could see all those creatures and then someone kicking the stall door hard enough to escape. LOL
    Freeeeedom! Great writing!

  16. Anonymous5:04:00 PM

    The animals went in two by two, but did they ever return? Great energy and meaning in this superbly crafted poem Sam.

  17. Lovely images of captivity and freedom in contrast, and the biblical element combines with the absurd strangely well. It really does express well the workplace zoo and its cramped personalities. Enjoyed it much.

  18. Excellent work, as always, Sam. The metaphor of zoo as workplace certainly evokes more than a few of the crazy places I've worked at! Your description of the landscape is especially evocative for me. The ending came across a little like Bunuel, one of those surreal endings that can be both hilarious and frightening.

  19. Ahhh! Those last two stanzas! What a wonderful concept, then the buildup [I love that you went nuts with the collectives], and then the punchline, and what a punchline. I went back immediately and reread for the pleasure of knowing what was coming.

    'with the hippopotamuses hogging the haybales' -- but, hey [really, the pun was not intended, but now that I have noticed it, it is], how can one resist the image even in the face of the more important message.

  20. I enjoyed the animals in the circus, then the snapping or breaking point of one in the office cube. For a moment, freedom, is what we long for...but not really for long ~ Enjoyed this reposting ~

  21. This is wicked :-)
    Can't help wondering who you were thinking of with umbrellas rolled and briefcases tucked under their arms.

  22. I really like this, especially the ending. Yes, we live for that moment.

  23. You have a great love and belief of what your writing. Which makes me do the same as I read.

  24. Love the metaphor...super effective and I SO enjoy all of the descriptions you used with the animals...this was such a visual poem, Sam!! Great writing, such a joy to read!

  25. such a wonderful take on this... that moment we all strive for, freedom, that so seldom comes, love the animal imagery, the biblical references, the epic feel.

  26. Anonymous10:53:00 PM

    What a wonderful way to portray the feelings of the working week, such surreal images that are so vivid and filled with the saddness of the aching to be free...if only for the weekend!

  27. Excellente use of metaphor, to escape the zoo and enter the wild of freedom. Loved the line work and word choices. Top notch.

  28. One read for enjoyment, one for understanding. I really appreciate the way it's not always immediately obvious how you've managed to engender exactly the right feelings. Hence the second reading. Much thanks for much pleasure.

  29. That seems the general feeling of freedom denied for animals and humans alike. The urge of wanting to break free is always there. It provokes lots of thinking when reading and your verse conveyed it very well, Sam!


  30. I love it! I love how you take the story of office work and quitting time, and weave it into the story of Noah! Awesome write, Sam. Well done!

  31. a delicious description of every cubicle-worker's desire to escape!

  32. Fantastic! For the first time in my life I am close to that moment...stretching my neck to see the spaces beyond the fence...loved this!

  33. poor Noah!! he works so hard. he needs to sleep.

    cubicle workers sleep a lot. it's a matter of not getting caught.

    Sonnet 24

  34. An interesting reinvention of a biblical myth.


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