The Elephant Whisperer by slangston hughes
(Author Note: Written for my mother this mothers day, this poem is a greeting card to her and to all mothers. As well as to the entire planet and universe for truly we are ALL connected. Also dedicated to the memory of Lawrence Anthony aka The Elephant Whisperer.)
“I have never really understood the saying “To think outside the box” why would anyone sit inside of a box and then think outside of it. Rather just get out of the box”
“Two kids whose definition of beauty begins with the word Mom”
When I was a kid, every Saturday morning my sister and I would set up all of our stuffed animals at random locations all over the house. And then proceed to hunt them down, one by one. We didn’t have a TV at the time, so I guess we were inspired to get really creative at providing our own entertainment. And the prize animal was this green and yellow stuffed brontosaurus named Dolo. We always hunted him last. When my mother caught wind of what we were doing, she was rather appalled. “Why on earth are you hunting your poor stuffed animals?” she screamed. But when she realized that Dolo was in danger, she sprung into action, because Dolo was a dinosaur dammit, the last of his kind, how dare we! She warned us that if we kept mistreating this majestic creature that he was sure to leave us. We laughed. One morning about half way through our silly safari it dawned on us that Dolo was missing. Searching high and low, he was nowhere to be found, until peaking out our bedroom window we saw him, walking down the street. Green paws pounding the pavement legs positioned as if he was actually placing one prehistoric foot in front of the other. After running to retrieve the beast before he could get away. My mother took a marker and drew a heart on his chest, she said, this means that you have to promise to never hunt Dolo again, because now he is alive.
How easily we take the most precious things for granted.
As if they’ll be with us forever.
or every single creature on the earth.
This is an eco
Of a child’s endless imagination blooming into sunset
beneath a fading heart beat.
Where a collection of infinite roads linked to one another all lead to the destination of our destiny in the city of who you were meant to be.
Blink once and it all fades to forgotten
An extinct memory
A blue whale swimming into oblivion
A white rhinoceros of regret
In 2003 during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, during a bombardment of bombings and other various highly inhumane atrocities a man named Lawrence Anthony would rush head first into the war zone in an attempt to save the animals in the Iraqi zoo, the largest in the Arab world. He would later go on to save 2 herds of endangered Elephants in his native of South Africa, and dedicate his life, day and night to their preservation and the mission of preserving many of our planets most deprived living gems. He would become known as “The Elephant Whisperer” and in his best selling book of the same title he said that “it was never about whispering to the Elephants per say. But simply being willing to listen to what the were saying to me.”
One of my favorite memories
was the day my mother sent me and my sister on our first adventure by ourselves.
The mission was, make it to Great Grandma’s house alone. While she went and handled some very important life altering business.
She looked me in the eyes and said
“Victor, take care of your little sister”
I held my sisters hand with a grip that said
This is one thing that you can never let go of.
Somehow knowing even then
That what means the most in life
Are those who mean the most to you
We are not whole
Because we are not ourselves
Until you feel the eternity of creation
Organize it self around you
When the organism of earths organization
Become the planet spinning inside you
You will not feel whole
But only feel a hole
Unable to fill the hole
Until you feel yourself become apart of the whole
Of everything around you
Our only identity is everything
Freedom in the form of an angry elephant
Charging heart first into the electric fence
Of your own self doubt
All tough skin and ivory hoping to find truth beyond the trees
I remember this one winter when we didn’t have any heat.
And icicles formed on the window seal, inside of the house.
But we never said, “whoa, these are hard times”
No, instead my sister and I looked at each other and simultaneously formed
the same idea in our snow filled thought bubbles.
“If we throw water on the kitchen floor in the morning
we could totally ice skate.
And if we take down the curtain rods?
Hockey. Oh yeah!
My mother immediately put a stop to these plans.
And the truth is that
Our most sacred memories remain
Omnisciently written in the language
Of an ancient intergalactic drum
That plays the universes theme song
A melody of empathy pulsating through our chakras like wind
A mother elephant thundering into the backyard of your life
There is a reason why elephant herds are lead by the matriarch
And proof that us humans have clearly got the shit backwards
In 2012 when the elephant whisperer died of a heart attack the 2 herds of elephants who he had saved nearly a decade earlier marched in unison for 12 miles. One by one up to the front of his house. Led by their matriarchs. And set in mourning for days in the front yard. As if they just knew some how.
Had felt their friends spirit shift from one world to the next
“proving the wondrous interconnectedness of all beings”
showing that there are things beyond human intelligence
that bind our souls threads like a Godly garment
holding this world together.
His wife said it was the greatest tribute that anyone could have paid.
And the elephants never forgot
When someone great dies
The entire planet’s orbit passes through a doorway
The Heavens shake
Carrier pigeons send feathered light beams
To the angel incrusted homing beacon
Inside your souls matrix
A whispering elephant transferring truth
That our stories are not our stories but our’ stories
We are all chapters in the same novel
Constantly writing it self into existence
Imagine if you could walk on air
And breathe dreams through your lungs
Write the kind of poems
That only animals can translate
When I die fuck a funeral
I want to have a wedding
Marry me to the planet
Spread my ashes over the ocean like confetti
Have our honeymoon on the moon
Do dances in zero gravity that make us look like spastic constellations
Cause dammit we are
The universes loudest whisper that we forgot how to listen to
When I depart from earth
For heavens sake
Please don’t post
Paragraphs of praise on my Facebook wall
I can’t read that shit from Stovokor
Instead I want all of my loved ones
And all of the loved ones
To march in an elephant like precession to the edge of forever
Led by a parade of youth poets screaming madness in tongues
Only lightning bugs understand
Backed by a trillion djembes played by an army of alien ancestors
And if you look inside the palms of each drummer
You’ll notice them slowly terra forming into the faces of every person
I ever have or will live a life as
And if anyone dare cries
A great bird will fly down from beyond
Transform into a baby
And punch THEM
Write in the heart
Then everyone in attendance will look up into the sky with exploding eyes
And all at once will get it
Will get the great and unfathomable joke that is us
As we all fall to the ground laughing so hard
That it causes the universe to start over again
And I have no idea what is happening
And that’s ok
I don’t even know what this is
Or why you’re reading it
I’m not sure anymore if this is a poem about mothers
Or the fact that as humans
It takes the presence of death
To actually make us feel alive
When we were really young
My sister and I used to sit outside at night with our mother
and watch the stars. The moon used to sing to us.
So one day we decided to sing back.
The rule was, that when it got really late, as soon as the moon went into the clouds it was time for us to go to bed. So one night we invented a song, intended to keep the moon out of the clouds. It went
“hey little moony stay out the clouds stay out the clouds stay out the clouds
hey little moony stay out the clouds stay out the clouds stay out the clouds”
and it actually worked
for like 2 hours we sang and the moon listened
back then we believed in magic
because we believed in mom
and mom was real
so magic was real (mommy magic)
and it still is.
Did you know you were an elephant?
Because you never forget
How to love.
Slangston Hughes attempts to bridge the gap between the legacy paved through the Harlem renaissance and Black Arts Movement with the innovative but yet rebellious spirit of HipHop culture.
Slangston Hughes was the first ever Word War grand slam champion in 2008 (Baltimore) and the 2010 Baltimore Crown Awards "Poet of the Year" recipient. a member of the Philly Pigeon Slam team that competed nationally at Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2012, he is the artistic director and lead literary instructor for Dew More Baltimore.
Slangston’s newest album Ghetto Griot vol 1 (Tubman City Times) is an epic of truth that brings together HipHop Afro Beat and Rhythms with the revolutionary spirit of the black consciousness movement and ancestral spirit of the griot and nomo (speaking words to life) tradition. Most recently his work has been published in the Poets ‘ America anthology via the Kratz Creative Writing Center. (2014)
Slangston is also the lead slam coach for the Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team (Dew More Baltimore) And on March 7th of 2015 published his first collaborative literary work along with author/prosaist Devlon E. Waddell as part of E.M.B.O.D.Y. (Ethereal Manifestation By Overtly Developing You).
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