Monday, May 13, 2013


Freedom in Ohio  
by Jennifer Chang 
on my birthday
I want a future
making hammocks
out of figs and accidents.
Or a future quieter
than snow. The leopards
stake out the backyard
and will flee at noon.
My terror is not secret,
but necessary,
as the wild must be,
as Sandhill cranes must
thread the meadow
yet again. Thus, autumn
cautions the cold
and the wild never want
to be wild. So what
to do about the thrum
of my thinking, the dangerous
pawing at the door?
Yesterday has no harmony
with today. I bought
a wool blanket, now shredded
in the yard. I abided by
dwelling, thought nothing
of now. And now?
I'm leopard and crane,
all's fled.

Jennifer says this poem was written on her 35th birthday, just 3 months after she moved to Ohio and heard about a man in Ohio who released his menagerie of 50+ exotic animals and then killed himself. She felt haunted by the sudden perilous freedom of the freed animals whose presence that day was marked by highway signs warning 'Caution Exotic Animals.' 
Jennifer says, "The greatest dangers may be the ones we can't see--the rustling in the woods one reporter noted months later that could've been the wind or an ornery tiger, or the wonderful and terrifying future which seems to get remade with every new decision we make."

I'm sure those of us in the Ohio Valley region remember this event and the horrible slaughter of the animals who escaped, knowing no better than to run wild in the suburbs.  Don't we all want freedom, even if we cannot illustrate or define what that means?

May you find your freedom!  
And kickstart your week with care for all others, 2-legged, 4-legged, winged or gilled.


Debbie Nolan said...

Dear Rhonda - this was a great poem you shared. I do remember this event and the tragedy of those poor animals. Sometimes we just don't know why certain things happen the way they do. Hope you have a very free day my friend.

Gary L. Everest said...

Hi Rhonda,
Geez...I almost spelled your name; Rhino! I guess the poem got to me more than I realized!
I do recall that incident and the anger I felt that those magnificent creatures were killed because a well-meaning human--who probably dearly loved them--had them in the first place.
We are a most interesting specie, but it never ceases to amaze me how many times we hurt the things we love--both animal and human.
It was a very thought-provoking poem.
Nice work Rhonda.

CrimsonLeaves said...

What a sad story and one that breaks my heart, Rhonda. I am so sorry for those animals. Oddly enough, I wonder if that man's heart was in the right place.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Debbie, Gary and Sherry. I, too, wonder about those who have to keep wild animals (of course, I say this as I'm trying to keep 2 mallard ducks in our yard and pool by feeding them, hoping for ducklings to watch and enjoy!). There is just something about humans that wants to possess and not just enjoy and leave when it comes to animals of all kinds. These big cats are not pets by any means, no matter what you may think or how you've raised them. Just crazy!

Helen K. Beacham Fine Art said...

Hadn't heard of that event, so thanks for sharing and the awakening, Rhonda.

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Yes, I remember this awful act. Intriguing poem!

Jan Yates, SCA, Canada said...

profound words-both in the poem and your reflection.

RH Carpenter said...

Helen and Jan, thanks for stopping by and glad the poem moved you. It really was a shock to me to read something about a news event in our area - but that's what poets do, bring the truth into a different area with words.

Pam, I thought it was fascinating - poets feel so much and then convey those feelings and we say, "Yes, that's what I thought, too" but couldn't bring it to words.