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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, September 21, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem came after watching the video of the tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo involving a 450-pound gorilla and a three-year-old black boy who had fallen into the moat. The terror and tender recognition between them; the deep ironies and shady ethics caught in those fraught minutes, and what the public outrage expressed indicates about the paradoxical nature of humanity, long legacies of brutality that continue.”
—Kamilah Aisha Moon

Shared Plight

Bound to whims,
bred solely for
circuses of desire.
To hell with savannahs,
towns like Rosewood.

Domestics or domesticated,
one name or surnamed, creatures
the dominant ones can’t live without
would truly flourish
without such devious love,
golden corrals.

Harnessed. Muzzled.
Stocks and bonds. Chains
and whips held by hand. 
Ota Benga in a Bronx cage,
Saartjie Baartman on display—
funds sent to her village
didn’t make it okay. Harambe,
Tamir, Cecil, Freddie—names
of the hunted, captives
bleed together. The captors
beasts to all but themselves
and their own.

Two endangered beings in a moat
stare into each other's eyes.

Slower than light, mercy
must not survive entry
into our atmosphere, never
reaching those who lose
unbridled lives
long before they die
in this world of zoos
and conquerors who treat
earthlings like aliens.

Copyright © 2016 by Kamilah Aisha Moon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 21, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Kamilah Aisha Moon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 21, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Kamilah Aisha Moon

Kamilah Aisha Moon

Kamilah Aisha Moon is the author of Starshine & Clay (Four Way Books, 2017). She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

by this poet

poem
	haunted by
wholeness—
	bright debris sibilant
beneath skin tug-of-warring
	with gravity, we
harvest shine
	from the caves of
mouths & crevices
	of eyes incandescent
as we remember
	the most massive
flares among us,
	detonate inside
each other to hold
	tiny supernovae
in our arms. Crushed
	bodies craving
poem

I.
Huge dashes in the sand, two or three
times a year they swim like words
in a sentence toward the period
of the beach, lured into sunning
themselves like humans do—
forgetting gravity,
smothered in the absence
of waves and high tides.

II.
[Pilot whales beach

poem

   —to Shirley Q. Liquor, Drag Queen in Blackface


When you're gay in Dixie,

you're a clown of a desperate circus.


Sometimes the only way to be like daddy

is to hate like him—

hope your brothers laugh

instead of shoot,

wrap a