Poetry

Pablo Escobar’s hippopotamus

He had four hippos in his private zoo

and would visit them each dawn in his silk kimono

to explain survival of the fittest, greedy bankers,

why the poor in his old street called him Robin Hood,

why he had to have 600 policía shot.

Sometimes they listened, sometimes not.

He would marvel at the way they troubled the water

but it sang right back to them.

For all we know, as he watched their voluptuous motion,

the white birds that rode their backs like a crown,

he imagined a grander version of himself,

tumbling in the heat of the herd, too large to feel fear,

a dangerous river to commandeer.

The long hunt for Escobar ended

with a final sprint across the rooftops,

an army bullet that whispered in his ear.

But the authorities found his hippos even more difficult

to capture, so they roamed and multiplied

until there were forty,

the number of wilderness and hard-won epiphany.

All his other pets − elephants, giraffes, rhinos −

were removed to a theme park

with a giant new water slide called el hipopótamo salvaje.

In the humid nights

while the animals tried to sleep

the water ran like justice, sang with irony, and deep.

Griffith Review