"I am hearing poetry when awake, dreaming poetry when asleep, breathing poetry with each breath, I am living in a poem."

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Wire of Confinement

The Wire of Confinement

Stolen from my canopy home
I live behind wire and human stares
in solitary confinement.

Cameras snap while hands reach to steal dignity
with demands I not be the wild animal I am,
but a tamed pet to assuage curiosity.

I am prodded to howl, but ears are deaf
to the rumble of my plea to return
where blue sky winks through a green umbrella.

Like every prisoner I dream of escape,
to flee from this alien sand burning beneath my cage
and find the breadfruit tree where I can climb to peace.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

At Real Toads Hannah has prompted us to visit the rainforest to find one of the creatures living there and give it a voice. Transforming Friday

I have actually been to rainforests in Panama and in Costa Rica. It is a breathtaking experience. The photo of the Howler monkey is actually one of my own. I took it at a private island in Belize. The poor thing was locked in a small cage with a wooden latch. Three teenage boys decided to set it free and it raced across the hot sand to a tree. I was taking pictures of the tree when I spotted it. The boys were on the other side of the tree pestering it and it jumped from the tree to my shoulder to eventually slide down to my left ankle. My husband, Charlie, came across the sand yelling for me to get the monkey off. I just gently shook my leg and that is when I received a bite from the Howler. In the whole sequence of events the monkey was never in attack mode. I believe it jumped on me for security because its handler was female. It was like a frightened cat so when I shook my leg it reacted by biting to try and prevent me from making it face those three boys.

Because of the bite I received it turned into an international incident. The bite wasn't bad, but I had it treated by first aide on the island, later on the cruise ship I was traveling on and when I returned home I had to talk to Houston's CDC which directed me to a  Dr. of Zoology. He asked me a series of questions about whether it had a tail for climbing, etc. He said that if it had been one without a tail there would be cause to worry, but since it didn't and I had been assured it had received its vaccinations; all should be fine. I had the number of the island in Belize and he told me he would call it. If I didn't hear from him then everything would be alright. So as you can see I am here writing poetry with nothing but compassion for an animal who just wanted to be free.


VaNdAnA ShArMa said...


Robyn Greenhouse said...

Your poem captured the feeling of all those animals wishing to be back out in the world! What perfect timing to be standing by the tree - for the picture at least, maybe not so perfect for the bite! Glad you were okay!

Kerry O'Connor said...

One of the saddest sight sin the world: a wild animal behind bars, in captivity for the possessive nature of mankind.

Grandmother said...

What an incident! Poor monkey, whose attitude you captured well.

Grace said...

I enjoyed the back story Susie, and it made your poem more compelling ~ I actually can't stand going to the zoo and seeing those captured animals in the cages ~

Happy Friday ~

sharplittlepencil.com said...

Susie, I love the sympathy you show, the understanding for this little guy. After you took the picture, and then were BIT, plus the "Belize Intl Incident," well, most poets would have written from a different viewpoint.

I was with you all the way. You inhabited this monkey and showed the cruelty of zoos, etc. Amy

Margaret said...

Mixed feelings about zoos. Some are injured and would not survive in the wild and we can learn about them.. but then they are "domesticated" and how little they behave like a "true" wild animal.. so how much do we learn? Some zoos are well maintained...others I have been to have been horrible.

Your experience is remarkable! I wonder if you had remained still, would it have not bitten you?

I love "where blue sky winks through a green umbrella." Yes, the monkey just wanted to be home.

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, the poor thing, and those wretched boys, setting it "free" so they could chase it. I'm glad it recognized you as a safe refuge, but sorry the boys frightened it into biting you. A sad story, told so well.
I didn't meet any howler monkeys in Costa Rica, but I was awakened by a group of them howling in the middle of the night. I thought they were banshees or something, so I hollered at my husband. "Just howler monkeys," he mumbled, and went back to sleep. So did I, after my heart stopped racing.
Thanks for your wonderful story about an animal who would have continued to see you as a friend if it hadn't been tormented.

Maggie Grace said...

Your compassion clearly comes through your beautifully written words. Amazing story and that monkey picked up your vibes, am sure. You were his safe place in that moment. These animals shouldn't even know what humans look like.

Hannah said...

Wow...that is a scary sounding and looking guy...I feel so bad for animals in captivity. Your perspective and story is amazing such a testament of your compassionate heart, Susie. Thank you so very much for giving the Howler monkey a voice and for sharing your story!! ♥

Lolamouse said...

It's so sad to see wild animals behind bars. Your poem captured this well.

Mama Zen said...

Unbelievable! Poor little guy.

Mary said...

That is quite a story. I definitely CAN empathize with the howler monkey. On another note, my niece was honeymooning in Thailand. SHE was bit HARD by a monkey there (on an organized tour). She was taken to a Thai hospital, and the bite was BAD. She and her husband left Thailand as soon as they could (ahead of their planned schedule) and returned home to Italy (where they live), and my niece was hospitalized for at least a week there. Nerve damage, etc. She still has major scarring and her feeling has not returned 100% and may never. I have seen this bite months later, and it HAS left an ugly scar. Your poem and commentary reminded me of this.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

What a story, Susie. I, too, believe the monkey came to you for protection from those dratted boys. I hate for anything to be in cages. Such a touching post, Susie. Loved it.

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