A squeamish beast, the first, the least, abstemious and slim,
its mortis has great rigor but its vigor has no vim.
It thinks it walks on water, but it won’t learn how to swim.
Wincing at vulgarity, it minces into pews
where sermons fortify its soul with nicely sorted views,
mortified if hemlines rise too high to hide its shoes.
Prims reside in shuttered rooms without a comfy seat,
uncluttered, trimmed in pale pastels, and lacking any heat—
Christian soldiers without peer who fear to cross the street.
The Striped Horse
A clown whose camouflage is bold as brass,
obscuring that it’s something of an ass,
it’s fleet and rarely captured in vers libre,
whose lines can make it hard to find the zibre.
The River Horse
Resembling a river-going barge,
the thinnest hippopotamus is large,
while larger hippopotami are vast
and won’t be faster beasts until they fast.
Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia. His poems have appeared in Angle, Goreyesque, Kin Poetry Journal, Lighten Up Online, Loch Raven Review, Snakeskin, and previous issues of Light. He is working on a bestiary.