The Giraffes Escape

by Samuel Peralta

Promenading down the boulevard, that early
June morning in Amstelveen, down
Piet de Winterlaan, miles away
from the circus pitch before the trainers
have caught on – we see the vista

from our coffee room window,
a splendid procession bridging the street –
fifteen camels, two zebras, a clutch
of llamas, a shuffle of elephants,
and loping in the lead, the giraffes.

Having kicked down the gates as if you were
at Mt. Ararat, still waiting for those pigeons
to return, not knowing if they even would;
fenced in from all sides without the sight
of sun or sky or boundless savannah;

huddled together in eighty square feet
of sweltering cabin-space; surrounded
by the spoor of lions, the howl of
cheetahs, the baying of wolves,
the ominous stare of vultures.

All this, for interminable days and
interminable nights, hardly getting any sleep,
with the hippopotamuses hogging the haybales,
the terrapins nipping at the trough,
the koalas stingy with the eucalyptus.

Something snaps, and suddenly
there you are, kicking at the cubicle,
loosening the boards, behind you the cries of
Shem, Ham, and Japheth as they try to wake
their father from blissful oblivion.

But none of that matters, none of it but for that
moment when the barricade falls, when you are
striding across the veldt, past office stalls,
through diluvian wave, when you are –
for that first, magnificent moment – free.

image003Samuel Peralta, also known as @Semaphore, is a physicist, technical business leader, mobile software developer, and the award-winning author of “The Semaphore Collection”, whose current titles – Sonata Vampirica, Sonnets from the Labrador, How More Beautiful You Are, Tango Desolado, and War and Ablution – all hit #1 on the Amazon Kindle Hot New Poetry list. Published in numerous journals, his literary honours include awards from the BBC, UK Poetry Society, a Palanca Award, and shortlists for the League of Canadian Poets, the Elgin Award, and ARC Poem of the Year.

Website –

Twitter –

Facebook –

Pinterest –

Amazon –

Copyright © Samuel Peralta. All rights reserved.
Author photograph by Grace Mendoza.
Giraffe photograph via Wikimedia Commons.

Tags: , , , ,

Categories: Writing


Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

3 Comments on “The Giraffes Escape”

  1. June 27, 2013 at 11:40 pm #

    Ah…I love this! I’m wondering if you thought to write it thinking about the Calgary Zoo animal’s plight, especially their giraffes,at this time of biblically epic flooding, or was this just a happy coincidence? It’s a wonderful poem in any case…speaks to the freedom, I’m sure every circus or zoo animal would seize in an instant (and no, I’m not against zoos — a necessary evil, I’m afraid, but I can certainly understand the underlying feeling of wanting to break out…oh yes)…I just re-read this and am curious to know if this is based on a real incident? I’m betting it is…I really like the allusions to the ark tho’, they’re excellent.


  2. June 27, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks for the kind words! This poem is based on an actual incident in 2008, which happened in a town about six miles from Amsterdam. The animals were from a travelling circus that had set up camp in that town, and had escaped onto a residential street. I transformed the quiet town into a more urban setting, to play up the metaphor of employees similarly trapped in their cages of cubicles. The ringleader in that escape was… a giraffe.


  3. October 26, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Giraffes thrill me. I sit in front of them at zoos, and wrote a poem about first meeting them at the tame Catskill Game Farm of my childhood. So seeing them here, in the street and in the Ark, doing their time to save their lives, feels familiar. I wish I had written it this poem and am ecstatic to find it breathing for you. What a sight to imagine, what a nightmare to dream, what an effort to live until the moment of freedom!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s