Poetry June 2012

Lonesome George

Giant tortoise kept penned at the Charles Darwin Research Station, Galápagos Islands

No mate for him exists.
     Last one of his subspecies,
he solemnly persists
     in turning into feces
eelgrass brown and dry,
     spine-sprinkled cactus leaves.
Straining to gulp a fly,
     he hastily retrieves
blunt head. Dead-ending male,
     lone emblem of despair,
he slumps on his knees, his tail
     antennaing the air.
For a long moment we bind
     sympathetic looks,
we holdouts of our kind,
     like rhymed lines, printed books.

X. J. Kennedy’s recent books include In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems 1955–2007 and Peeping Tom’s Cabin: Comic Verse 1928–2008.
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