Mark O'Flynn

THE HIPPOS OF VENEZUELA

Mark O'Flynn

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Poor old Pablo Escobar,

sad, misunderstood fellow.

Once the Florida beach has been emptied

of all that Columbian marching powder,

dispersed like a burst apiary across the flatlands

of an insatiable market, there is still the problem

of what to do about the cash.

The submarine, commandeered from the navy,

is too small. They have to leave pallets of cold hard

greenbacks on the beach like bales of hay after harvest

or turtles returning to the sea.

That irks.

You’d think that when there is more money

than will fit in a submarine then money might

lose something of its meaning. Not on your life.

What to spend it on? That is the question.

Of course, if you’re Pablo Escobar, you might

decide to fix the nation’s hospital system or instead,

warned off politics, you might buy your own private zoo,

fill it with exotic creatures from all over the known

world. You might even call it philanthropy, (but not

hubris). However, when you tread on too many toes

and get yourself shot, for one – who cares?

and for two - who’s going to look after the poor animals?

Not the cartel henchmen sick of stirring corpses

into vats of acid, worthy work though that might be.

Never really appreciated the aquatic artiodactyl ungulate

removed from its natural African habitat. Nor the blue-tongued

camelopard wilting in its own self-imposed silence,

nor the crying hyena, the lazy lemonade liger.

The bars inevitably rust, the palm trees fall over,

the cheap concrete decays.

Hunger drives the captive animals to do what captives do

and break out, so now the hippopotami, rampaging

through the compound, muddy after the wet,  

have long escaped not only into the Meta and Vichada,

but also the Venturai, the Orinoco, the Avauca rivers.

Another ecological disaster.

Like submarines the hippopotami don’t stop

for national borders; it’s their perfect environment,

all the wide wandering Amazon before them.

Poor old Pablo Escobar, coked off his scone

at the centre of the universe, invincible

behind those bullet-proof bales of cash -

when you try to play God in a Godless world,

God shoots back.


Mark O'Flynn


Mark O’Flynn is an Australian writer who has published four collections of poetry, most recently Untested Cures (Picaro Press), plus three novels including Grassdogs and The Forgotten World. He has also published a collection of short fiction, White Light, was published in 2013. His fifth collection of poetry will be published later this year.