Ed Shacklee


Tiger Riding in America

I’m riding on a tiger, for I thought it was a lark.
I dug my spurs into it as I galloped through the park,
but now my grip is slick with sweat, the tangled path is dark,
and tigers seem so pettish when you try to disembark.

Its eyes are amber embers and there is no creature fairer:
its teeth are rows of ivory knives, its growl a thrill of terror.
Its hide’s the height of fashion and so grand its gaudy wearer,
but jumping on a giant cat was, possibly, an error;

for how can I dismount my famished former favorite ride
although it smiles encouragement, its Cheshire grin so wide?
If gravity elects to show what goeth after pride,
I will not be as comfortable while traveling inside,

which leaves me glancing fondly at the place from whence I came
while riding on the tiger, and I have to take the blame—
for though I skimmed the papers guaranteeing it was tame,
I knew it was a tiger and I got on all the same.

Ed Shacklee is a public defender who lives on a boat in the Potomac River. His first collection, The Blind Loon: A Bestiary, was published in 2017 by Able Muse Press. (Book review here.) His poems can be found in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light, and Rattle, among other places. If you’re interested, the Facebook Group “The Blind Loon: A Bestiary” can be found here.