The above photographs were taken and submitted by New York City poet Joe Tessitore. We invite readers to pick one of the images (or both) and write a poem. Post your poem in the comments section below.



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20 Responses

  1. Alex Andy Phuong


    People do what they do
    Some animals live in a zoo
    Some human beings forget
    That they are animals, too
    Unite humanity
    To create a better world

  2. Joe Tessitore

    See ‘Em at the Museum

    Boys poised,
    side by side.
    Chests protruding,
    strength exuding.
    Flesh and bone
    and wrought in stone.
    I caught ‘em both
    on my I Phone.

    Jungle King

    The king waits for the bus.
    What is there to discuss?
    I think I’ll take a cab.

    • Monty

      Regarding the title of your above poem, Joe: you (and others) may or may not wish to know that the words “see ‘em” and “museum” were once used (ingeniously, I thought) as a rhyme by Joni Mitchell in her ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ (in which she tells us of a wooded area – real or imagined: it makes no difference – which’d been annihilated to make way for a new car-park).

      They took all the trees
      And put ‘em in a tree museum;
      And they charged the people
      A dollar-an’-a-half just to see ‘em!

      Don’t it always seem to go
      That ya don’t know what ya’v got
      Till it’s gone . . .
      They paved paradise,
      An’ put up a parking-lot.

  3. Alan

    The Concrete Jungle

    The “concrete jungle” used to be a name
    That humans used to represent their place,
    But lions might not want to play our game.

    Not one to cage, not one to ever tame,
    So who will be the prey and who will chase?
    The “concrete jungle” used to be a name.

    If beasts returned to town, would they reclaim
    Their land and leave our homes without a trace?
    The lions might not want to play our game.

    If soon the trees and growing vines became
    Our masters, could we match their rapid pace?
    The “concrete jungle” used to be a name.

    What will become of all this burning flame?
    Will time run out or will we face disgrace?
    The lions might not want to play our game.

    One thing that we must here and now proclaim:
    We humans aren’t the only living race;
    The “concrete jungle” used to be a name,
    But lions might not want to play our game.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    The great Assyrian Lamassu
    Right next to the cleaning crew.

    A lion on a New York Street
    Looking somewhat bushed by heat.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Joseph, I was tempted to respond to these prompts, but I don’t see how I could top your contributions.

  5. Angel L Villanueva

    Seeking To Devour

    Do not ignore his frightful roar,
    But quickly strive to shut your door,
    For he will seek your faith to raze,
    To make you leave what you adore.

    A master hunter in his ways,
    With avid eyes he waits for preys.
    But keep your senses and perceive
    The traps he lays to end your days.

  6. Gerald Weeks

    Standing tall, flesh or rock, erect, yet to expect the living or hewn as alter ego’s adjacent; they exhibit no inhibit as sentinels old and recent, so no time is told for the young and old, no rhyme or reason is nascent.

  7. James A. Tweedie

    A famous sculptor hired me to pose.
    He’s good at what he does, so I have heard.
    I think he did a nice job with my nose,
    But really messed up big time on the beard.

    He gave me wings, a tail, and hooves as well.
    But even so, I think that you’ll agree
    That looking at it closely you can tell
    The finished statue looks a lot like me!


    A mascot in the NFL
    Should be a happy guy.
    But if you’re from Detroit, oh well,
    You hang your head and cry.

  8. David Watt

    Ahead of Their Time

    In Mesopotamia long ago
    Science was primitive, so they say,
    Lacking in splicing or G.M.O.

    But Lamassu’s features, by light of day,
    Lead me to ponder how they could grow
    Creatures as mixed as a stand-up buffet.

  9. David Watt

    Oh For a Lion

    I wish I had a lion!
    I’d keep it in the street
    To frighten all the passers-by
    And hunt its own fresh meat.

    But when the landlord called,
    My lion would be there
    To catch him wholly unawares,
    And chase him down the stair.

  10. Shari Jo LeKane

    The lion forever changes its mane,
    a sign of growth, strength, adaptability,
    lifelong learning, character and wisdom
    gained through a lifetime of experience.

    The lion knows
    how to pick its battles,
    what is worth defending for the pride,
    for the sake of survival,
    for the sake of love and loyalty,
    and ultimately,
    when to simply walk away.

  11. Sally Cook


    Tiger, tiger in my sight,
    .Striped, just like a honey bee
    In deepest black and golden yellow.
    One nasty sting, or awful bite
    Prove neither is a friendly fellow.

  12. peter venable

    Martin Luther King came not as a sphinx
    But as a prophet, to break racial caste
    And to change the lies humanity thinks:
    “Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

    • Monty

      That’s an imaginative interpretation of the above photo . . as well as being a nice (and true) sentiment.
      Well interpreted.

  13. Martin Elster

    The Lion of the City

    The lion of the city came to feed
    at night on sounds of trains and taxi honks,
    the stench of pee and trash. He had no need
    to hang with friends at the big zoo in the Bronx.

    The lion of the city, belly grumbling,
    padded on velvet paws along the street
    and, echoing his belly, trains were rumbling
    under the jungle fashioned of concrete.

    The lion of the island of Manhattan,
    lapping dirty water from the gutter,
    was gifted with a mane no other cat in
    the world enjoyed. Unconscious of the clutter

    of buses, cars, and feet, carrying laughter
    and grief and rage and multitudes of moods,
    this feline fugitive — what was he after?
    Wildebeest do not like these latitudes.

    Take pity on the lion of the city!
    Anon he was detected by the warden.
    The lion of the city was no kitty.
    Anon he was surrounded by a cordon.

    The people of the city watched the lion.
    They watched him crouch and heard him snarl and growl,
    smelled fear and thought, “He soon will be in Zion.
    This place is no place for big cats to prowl.”

    He heard the shot. His ears began to ring.
    He felt a stab of pain and then of sorrow
    for those who didn’t reckon him the king
    of beasts from Nuka Hiva to Kilimanjaro.

    The towers and lights and witnesses went dark.
    Dreaming of lionesses and gazelle,
    he lumbers round the grasslands of the park
    or lazes under beeches, bored to hell.

    The people watch the lion at the zoo.
    They’ve come from Brooklyn or Louisiana,
    exclaiming, “That’s a lion through and through,”
    imagining him roaming the savanna.

  14. C.B. Anderson

    How sad it is when kings must stoop
    Before an urban gutter filled with poop.

    You see it in that noble feline’s eyes
    That pride’s the first entitlement that dies.

  15. C.B. Anderson

    Corrected version:

    How sad it is when mighty kings must stoop
    Before an urban gutter filled with poop.

    You see it in that noble feline’s eyes,
    That pride’s the first entitlement that dies.

  16. Amy

    God or Man?

    “God or Man?” he asks of me,
    “That truth of which I’m told.
    Tell me if you can,” says he,
    “Which path does lead to gold?”

    “Of riches internal or outwards?” I ask.
    “Of wealth overflowing or small?”
    “Of that which will flower this desert” says he,
    “Of that which births roads from a wall.”

    “Of roads with the eye or the soul?” I reply.

    “Whichever will guide me to grace,”
    he says as he turns to the tourist and sighs,
    “Of that which will find me a face.”

    “What makes an empire?” I ask of the man.
    “A leader” says he, with a grin.
    “But what makes one lasting and loved throughout time?”
    “Their heart” he replies as a win.

    “But how are you sure if it’s good or it’s ill?”

    “By my own” he replies with a bend.

    “But what if your own is defective, my dear? Just how will you know what will mend?”

    He thought upon these questions,
    then turned to me and said,
    “Why do we call bread broken,
    when through its tear, we’re fed?
    If plurals build on singulars,
    and truth does set men free
    to break the flesh’s fetters,
    might man’s letters hold the key?”

    “You ask a crucial question, which my return’s, “Because-
    how can we have a word which ‘is’, if something never ‘was’?”

    “To build upon a form,” says he,
    “A true form must exist,
    for stories, songs, and artist’s hands,
    to undertake this twist.”

    He motions to a statue,
    and to this I do reply,
    “Wise is he, whose soul can see the wings by which it flies.”

    “God or Man?” I ask of him
    who laughs and takes my hand.
    “Now I see the path ahead,
    and know on which I stand.”

  17. AJK

    Some people
    say it’s
    a jungle out there, but I am
    a fearless fighter.
    No matter
    what gets in my way—
    I will break through.


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