Doug Paul Case

LION AT THE AMUSEMENT PARK

We sat in the coaster’s last car
because I like watching people’s heads
fall beneath me before my own is flung back,
before gravity pulls the shock from my lungs.
It’s a miniature premonition, like his paw
on my waist, the tip of his tail tickling
my neck, or burying my face in his mane
when I can’t bear to see what drop’s
around the next bend. It smells like savannah
heat, and inhaling, I wish what I wished
on the bumper cars, when he only slammed
his bright red car into mine. Jolts!

*

LION AT THE BEACH

We went because he’d never seen the ocean
and he wanted to eat it—to slurp, to swallow
hard—fish slapping his gullet. Like pelicans,
he wouldn’t chew. He wanted the authentic experience.
I tried explaining how his stomach couldn’t possibly contain
the ocean, that the salt alone would outweigh him by margins
incalculable, that he could walk inside whales’ ventricles.
But he’s not interested in mathematics. He’s interested
in grand gestures. Which is why, when the sand scalded,
I ripped up my shirt and wrapped the pieces around his paws—

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