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THE BAGHDAD ZOO, a poem by Brian Turner


      Is the world safer? No. It's not safer in Iraq.
            --Hans Blix

An Iraqi northern brown bear mauled a man
on a streetcorner, dragging him down an alley
as shocked onlookers cried for it to stop. 
There were tanks rolling their heavy tracks
past the museum and up to the Ministry of Oil. 
One gunner watched a lion chase down a horse. 
Eaten down to their skeletons, the giraffes
looked prehistoric, unreal, their necks
too fragile, too graceful for the 21st Century. 
Dalmatian pelicans and marbled teals
flew over, frightened by the rotorwash
of blackhawk helicopters touching down. 
One baboon even escaped from the city limits. 
It was found wandering in the desert, confused
by the wind and the sand of the barchan dunes.

Reprinted with permission from Here, Bullet by Brian Turner, Alice James Books (November 15, 2005)

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