Archive for the ‘Animals in the City’ Category

Animals in the City: issue summary

June 13, 2013 1 comment

by David Cazden and Sherry Chandler


One afternoon I was driving in downtown Lexington and saw a raccoon running along the sidewalk. Actually it was less a run and more a determined walk alongside the feet of the lawyers and businessmen who populate our downtown during the day. Men and women wearing suits and ties (as opposed to the burglar’s outfit of the raccoon), but ever in a hurry, knowing where they’re going. And the raccoon certainly knew where to go, straight to a city trash receptacle, disappearing inside, I assume for a bite of lunch, probably discards from the many lunch diners who line our streets. So, our lunch was also the raccoon’s.

When Sherry and I were discussing a theme for this issue, that event resurfaced. Talking of the way certain animals have made homes beside us, invited or not, we decided it would be worthwhile to call for work that considers the way man has unwittingly created urban environments where certain animals thrive, often just out of sight.

And it seems to us that the imagination and sensitivities shown in these fine poems, narratives, and artwork have captured this accidental coexistence very well. There are animals beside and within us. Either inside or outside our houses, on the streets, on the roof, in the air, seen or unseen. Escaped lab rats, rock doves, alligators (perhaps in certain cities), coyotes, roaches, more. None really belong and yet they all do. So here they are, in words and artwork which draw a range of meanings from these urban animals, uncovering the sometimes startling ways that they intersect our concerns and reflect the human world.


When Dave suggested “Animals in the City” as the theme for our issue of qarrtsiluni I was skeptical. After all, I live in the country. My experience of urban animals is limited to the chipmunks that burrow under the decorative boulder in front of the clinic where I work. Those and the occasional unfortunate bug that survives the poison spray to raise screaming panic among my co-workers, women who are calm in the face of disastrous human illness. I was charmed, however, by Dave’s tale of the enterprising raccoon and I trust his instincts as an editor, so I agreed. The result outstripped my fondest expectations. I was surprised by the variety of animals who live among our urbanites and suburbanites: Birds — from choreographed grackles to a cowboy cattle egret — and squirrels of course, and a wide variety of cats, but also bears, coyotes, rattlesnakes, a lion, possums, mice, skinks, box turtles, a stag, bees, mayflies, an aardvark, and a pantheon of Greek gods masquerading as dogs in Athens. In addition to Athens, these animals live in Los Angeles, London, Glasgow, Vancouver, France, Sweden, Germany, The Philippines, Nigeria, and Australia. These animals charm and they witness disaster. I was impressed by the way our furred, feathered, scaled, and exoskeletoned cousins adapt to what we’ve done to their world, and I was gratified at the variety and quality of the submissions we received. Thank you to Dave for the suggestion and for sharing the hard work of choosing, to Dave Bonta who gave us this opportunity, and to everyone who afforded us the privilege of reading and featuring their work.

For bios of the editors, see the call for submissions.

Animals in the City: Table of Contents

June 13, 2013 Comments off

Ah, the Aardvark: Classifying Chaos in an Urban Zoo by KJ Hannah Greenberg

The Bing by Gordon Gibson

When the Fox Comes to the City by Patricia Fargnoli

Escaped Lab Rat by Eileen Malone

Mice of the London Underground by Robert Peake

On the Wires by Karyn Eisler

Coot in Kentucky by J. Stephen Rhodes

The Cockroaches by Ann E. Michael

A Night in New York by Christina Cook

Coyote Pack Sparks Fears by M. L. Brown

Natural Confrontations by Changming Yuan

When Bears Fall From Trees by Elizabeth Aquino

Opossum by Elizabeth Schultz

Witness by Lissa Kiernan

Among the Orchids by Cher Holt-Fortin

Aphids by Laura Shovan

Crocodile Tears by Akumbu Uche

All-Together Scent by Coco Owen

Pigeons by Marilyn Zelke-Windau

Cat and Pigeons by Monika Andersson

Woodpeckers? by Dennis H. Lee

The Captive Improvises: Channel Six News by Nancy Fletcher Cassell

Massacre in Maguindanao by Jonel Abellanosa

Trick-or-Treat by Erin Murphy

The Butcher Dressing Chickens by Lisa J. Cihlar

Half Past Four on a Lurid August Day by Joseph Harker

How To Explain The Birds That Sing At 3 A.M. by Daniel Hales

The Stag by Patricia L. Scruggs

The Cattle Egret by James Brush

Study in Tawny Brown by Deb Scott

Rattlesnake Bites Man in Walmart Garden Center by Laura Shovan

Wild animals, come to the porch by Rosemary Starace

Co-Evolution by Robin Chapman

Coyote in the Backyard by Frederick Garber

Good Friday Aria by Gail Eisenhart

An Ode by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming

the egrets come to Downey by Lorine Parks

Chironomus plumosus by Steve Tomasko

How cats find homes by Phyllis Klein

F/light by Dorothee Lang

Low Rent Urban Housing by Margaret S. Mullins

Aperture by Karen George

You, Cardinal by C. E. Chaffin

Strix Nebulosa by Mari-Lou Rowley

Parakeet by Rafael Miguel Montes

The Order of the Forest by Valerie Loveland

Syntagma by Dawn Nikithser

Nocturne (VI) from the Bed Bug Diaries by Joanie DiMartino

Recognizable Trappings by Katherine Glatter

Wildlife graffiti: Hummingbird in Oaxaca, Mexico by Steve Wing

Skink by Francesca Sasnaitis

Autumn Equinox Creature Song by Uche Ogbuji

Mourning Dove by Louisa Howerow

Via Negativa by J. Stephen Rhodes

The Shepherd by Donna J. Gelagotis Lee

Surveillance by Ellen Birkett Morris

Squirrels and Injury by Jenny McBride

Putting Up by Christi Krug

Single-Minded by James Burgett

From Here by Maggie Rosen

Wherever There Is Water There Is Wild by Timothy Walsh

Spring, Dripfisted by Sarah Stanton

Wakeful by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

The Hawk by Ronald Pickett

Fox in the Shard by Sarah Burke

On a Beech Branch, Noon by Anna Lena Phillips

Let There Be Water For All by Nicole Holovinsky

Animals by Liz N. Clift

At a Traffic Light by Warren Baker

Playing Chicken by Betsy Packard

Intercession by Kristin Camitta Zimet

Foxes by Tammy Ramsey

Backyard Event (with a chorus for jays and bees) by Rosemary Starace

Urban Biology Bingo by Rosemary Mosco

Categories: Animals in the City

Urban Biology Bingo

June 12, 2013 Comments off

by Rosemary Mosco


Urban Biology Bingo
(Click image to view a larger version.)


Rosemary Mosco (website) is a field naturalist by training who is interested in connecting people with environmental science through field experiences and creative communication projects. She has worked in diverse science communications roles with organizations such as the National Park Service and Mass Audubon. Her science cartoons have appeared in many publications, including The Globe and Mail and Torontoist. Other projects have included science-based videos, web sites, podcasts, and games. She holds an M.S. degree from the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont. She completed her thesis work on web-based and place-based climate change communication.

Backyard Event

June 11, 2013 2 comments

(with a chorus for jays and bees)

by Rosemary Starace

The rosemary spills from the clench of the pot
the flux and the sex
of a gravelly musk.

Necessity sniffs at those ravels of leaves
and leaves her with flowers,
cerulean, mute.

In the spice and the peace of the sprawl of the morning,
her joy ruffles up,
the bee from its bloom.

Huhzzuzzah, huzzah.

Download the MP3

Rosemary Starace (website) lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a small city in the middle of a big, hilly forest. She’s the author of Requitements and co-editor of Letters to the World: Poems from the Wom-po Listserv, with Moira Richards and Lesley Wheeler. Her work has appeared in Orion, Blueline, Studio, and elsewhere, including other issues of qarrtsiluni.


June 11, 2013 1 comment

by Tammy Ramsey

Each night
against city ordinance
she serves up dinner.
The foxes prefer bread;
raccoons, peanuts.
Possum will eat anything
except cucumbers,
which will lie in the yard
untouched by any animal
until sun and decomposition
take them away.

She began counting in July,
keeping coded track
on the kitchen calendar:
MR+5B when the mama raccoon
arrived late pulling, like moons,
her five babies;
3F for the brother fox,
a new litter still traveling together;
1P+1P+1P for the three possum
who might really be just one
arriving over and over again.

For a time it was unclear how many —
at least three, she thought,
but maybe even four or five.
Then one night
six appeared at once,
her eye not quite registering at first
from behind the curtain’s edge
just how many there were.
She counted and recounted,
the six foxes playing like happy puppies.

She had wanted, just then,
a witness to turn to,
someone else to see what she saw,
but with no one else there,
she watched until they left,
then recorded: 6F

Download the MP3

Tammy Ramsey teaches English and journalism at Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Her poems have appeared in New Growth: Recent Kentucky Writings, The Louisville Review, and Kentucky’s Twelve Days of Christmas. She earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Kentucky and a master of fine arts in writing from Spalding University.

Categories: Animals in the City Tags:


June 10, 2013 Comments off

by Kristin Camitta Zimet

Cages stuffed with finches swung
in bunches at the shrine
on the jammed Bangkok street,
and on a bench below them
sat a girl, sunken-eyed, lap
crammed with jewels she put on
only when passersby would pay
to make her dance their prayer up
before the god. She shrank, lips
parted, panting, like the birds.
I had coins for one cage—
the scuffle, snapping bones,
the bursting out the door,
the lucky ones flung skyward.
But not enough for her.

Download the MP3

Kristin Camitta Zimet is the Editor of The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. Her poems are in the full-length collection Take in My Arms the Dark and in many anthologies and journals, including Lullwater Review, Poet Lore, and Crab Orchard Review. Once a city girl, she is a naturalist in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

Playing Chicken

June 10, 2013 Comments off

by Betsy Packard

She nests in a sprawling tulip poplar
on a street of rental properties,
fast cars and fire crackers
peopled by many colors and tongues.
She scolds me
if the dogs and I venture too closely.

Yet I anticipate her dashes for acorns,
pine cones, pizza crusts and potato chips.
An adept tightrope arialist,
she escapes neighborhood cats
by zipping across power lines.
Watch her run, she hypnotizes—
contracting, expanding
as that bad-hair-day tail flexes
at every stride.

She has become bolder
perhaps knowing my dogs and I
pose no threat. These days
she brazenly watches us cross her path,
trespass on her domain,
our gazes locked in a daily stand-off.

Since we keep moving
avoiding confrontation or chase
I suspect she thinks
she’s won.

Download the MP3

New Englander by birth, Kentuckian by choice! My undergrad and graduate studies were at the Ohio State University, then I went and pursued a fun degree in in Fashion Design & Clothing Construction. My original designs (clothing and accessories) are available at The Bazaar, a juried portion of The Lexington Rescue Mission Thrift Store at Limestone & Louden in Lexington, KY. I have had poetry, creative non-fiction and flash fiction published and won multiple awards including one from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. In addition to my writing and creating wearable art, I’m a watercolor and a fiber artist. Many of my contemporary tapestries include yarn I have spun myself.

At a Traffic Light

June 7, 2013 1 comment

by Warren Baker

I look up
from my phone
to see a gray fox dart
across the road,
its black-tipped tail
sticking straight out,
running from the remains
of a meal scavenged
from garbage, a primeval
agenda set by a forebear
who crossed this
then-dirt road
with the warm body
of a Rhode Island Red
clenched in its jaw,
blood slick in its throat.
From henhouse
to woods it ran
beyond rifle range
of the farmer.
The light turns green.
My phone rings.
I dart ahead.

Download the MP3

Warren Baker is an assistant professor in the Professional Writing Program at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. A former journalist and copywriter, he holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. His poems appear in Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and Chocorua Review.

Categories: Animals in the City Tags:


June 7, 2013 1 comment

by Liz N. Clift

When the first goat came into Jasper’s — it walked on its hind legs — we thought it was a joke, something we could talk about at our day jobs. When the second one came in, we stopped scattering topping on pizzas, and stared. We watched Tina, the hostess, look flustered and then speak to the goats. We looked at each other, and muttered about the freaks that come in after 10 pm. We wished again that Jasper would put up one of those signs that said “Service Animals Only.”

When a cougar joined the goats a few minutes, we went back to checking on our tables. We wanted to distract our customers — even though most of them had already noticed the animals. A thin man in a pinstripe suit asked, loudly, “Is this one of those places where anything goes?” He didn’t seem angry.

Another man, one of our regulars who always came with a different woman called back, “Indeed man, it is.”

We laughed, and we could hear nervousness in our laughter.

Tina, the hostess, shot the bartender — who doubled as the bouncer — a look. He shook his head and shrugged. According to Jasper, we served anyone who didn’t appear drunk or high. Read more…

Categories: Animals in the City Tags:

Let There Be Water For All

June 6, 2013 Comments off

by Nicole Holovinsky


Squirrel and firefly at bird bath
(Click image to see a larger version)


Nicole Holovinsky describes herself as a full-time vegetarian, part-time vegan, photographer, ocean lover, avid reader, cook, baker, traveler, and moon chaser — “and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I love taking pictures of the world around me and sharing with everyone on my website and Facebook page.”

%d bloggers like this: