from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Lost Species poem 9: Harry Owen

Harry Owen was the editor of the anthology For Rhino in a Shrinking World (The Poets Printery, East London, South Africa, 2013)

The website for the anthology is at Please visit; please spread the word. See, too, the video Harry has made.

I was both shocked and moved by this poem, below, and by Harry's words on the website in relation to the context. (They sit beneath the photo of a female rhino minus her horn.)

Harry says: 'This is Thandi, the heroic rhino to whom For Rhino in a Shrinking World is dedicated. Her horn was, of course, hacked from her face by poachers.

'Since then, I have had both the honour and the despair of watching a rhino darted and de-horned in order to make it less attractive to poachers. Here is my response to that experience.'


I have always hated that sound: it means
death for something, it means devastation,
the hollow shriek of human intrusion.

Now here he is, crumpled on his haunches,
a white rhino bull, too strong, too proud, too
much himself, despite the darts, to go down.

But he’s drugged, masked, pinned: this to save his world.

And clearly he has been through the nightmare
before, though his stunted horn has re-grown.
Now the indignity repeats itself.

Our work’s against the clock, the sedative,
the history; his life depends on us.
So, plenty of cool water – and a chainsaw.

The helicopter’s pilot lounges, smoking,
in his cab as blizzards of horn shavings
surge from the blade like flakes of pale soap,

like the weeping wings of termites or ants,
like butterflies consecrating the grass
beneath the sun’s fire and the chainsaw’s hell.

This is what we’re reduced to: presiding
over the face of our world, cosmetic
surgery or death, improving nothing.

© Harry Owen



  1. This is just harrowing. What are we doing to our world!

    1. Isn't it powerful, Angie?

      (And btw I've been thinking of your sad news over Christmas: hope Rosie's still strong and bright.)

  2. More power to Harry, we are with u


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