The lion of the city came to feed
at night on sounds of trains and taxi honks.
He smelled the chili dogs. He had no need
to hang with all his zoo friends in the Bronx.
The lion of the city, belly grumbling,
padded on velvet paws along the street.
In echo to his belly, trains were rumbling
under the jungle molded of concrete.
The lion, sauntering across Manhattan,
striding like a ghost along the gutter,
was gifted with a mane no other cat in
the world enjoyed. He didn’t mind the clutter.
Buses, cars, and feet—they carried laughter
and grief and rage and multitudes of moods.
This feline fugitive—what was he after?
Wildebeest do not like these latitudes.
Take pity on the lion of the city!
Soon he was detected by the warden.
The lion of the city was no kitty.
Soon he was surrounded by a cordon.
The people of the city watched the lion.
They watched him crouch and heard him snarl and growl,
smelled fear and thought, “He soon will be in Zion.
This place is no place for big cats to prowl.”
He heard the shot. His ears began to ring.
He felt a stab of pain and then of sorrow
for those who didn’t reckon him the king
of beasts from Gambia to Kilimanjaro.
The towers, the lights, the faces—all are dark
as he dreams of lionesses and gazelle,
lumbers round the grasslands of the park,
or lazes under beeches, bored to hell.
The people watch the lion at the zoo.
They’ve come from Brooklyn or Louisiana,
exclaiming, “That’s a lion through and through,”
imagining him roaming the savanna.