Ed Shacklee


The Orange Tufted Hubris

Wider than a weasel and as pacey as a pig,
its name worth twice its weight in gilt—its guilt obscenely big—
the Hubris sports an orange tuft resembling a wig.

Its tongue is a chameleon, while its history’s a leopard.
Its past is roundly checkered, and its checks are soundly peppered
with queries from the sheep it’s fleeced while mimicking a shepherd.

With salty pretzel logic and embezzled paradoxes
it steals the lion’s share, the tiger’s share, the wolf’s, the fox’s,
and burgles all your bagels till you wonder where the lox is.

Its slender wit engendered where the south end of an ox is,
it squats inside its squalid house whose roof is pocked with poxes
and bottle-feeds a dream that ends with soldier boys in boxes.

It grows by leaps and bounds, although it never leaps, but rests
on silken sheets embroidered with imaginary crests;
nonetheless, the wisest heads have very gently stressed

that monsters Mesozoic should be tutored with a mallet.
Though senators are stoic—it won’t eat them, or shall it?—
I wish I were heroic. But at least I cast a ballot.

Those who stalk the tufted Hubris find to their regret
This pear-shaped Boojum of the swamps is slippery when wet.
When they twist its tail it flails, and tears the safety net,

then changes course abruptly with a pudgy pirouette;
for if you sow the wind, the whirlwind’s often what you get.
Its head’s still on its shoulders, though it hasn’t used it yet.

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.