A Serengeti Gospel

I was called by the matrilineal.

Already, from my grandmother, I had learned that one who lies so still will not rise again except in dreams;

From my aunt, I learned that laughter vexes the devil. Her example came loudly and often, delighting the child that I was;

And from my mother I learned that nothing is safe, and not to trust love.

I wanted more. I longed to join the lionesses, and so I sold my car, my house, my jewelry,

And found myself at the edge of the Serengeti.

I stripped down and walked into the heart of lion country.

You may think,

This was a fool's errand;

But the lionesses recognized me at once, and immediately I found myself

Watching the cubs,

Joining the hunt.

My body grew brown and tough,

My nails long and sturdy.

I crouched in the tall grasses with the others, and as we stalked the buffalo herd,

I looked at my sisters and their avid teeth, their golden eyes shining and I recalled a woman,

In an upstairs flat in summer time.

She called me "you sweet sweet bitch." That was the first time.

Then we are bursting into the open in streaks of yellow,

Like shooting stars,

And I am where I belong.

We are the lionesses, and we stay together for life.

The males come and go, depending upon who beats the daylights out of who at any given time.

That is not my concern.

My concern is to kill.

There is no cruelty in it, only pragmatic necessity.

If I return with nothing, my children cannot eat mercy.

For them, it is dinner or death, and so I chase, spring, and strike,

Without remorse;

And after all, I did not invent this arrangement.

This night, I have run to ground a member of a television reality program;

As I crush my victim's throat, a man wearing a baseball cap cries, "Are you getting this? Are you getting it?!?"

I drag the dead actor away.

Hyenas harass me, but my sisters come to my aid and we leave one of the thieves with an opened flank.

We eat well, growing lazy and contented.

This has become my home.

My life is bound together with the others;

I have almost forgotten that I am human,

And this is not such a bad thing.

A camera woman using night vision trains her lens on me--

I feel something,


Then I dip my head and show my teeth.

Whatever it was is gone.


thank you to Sherry Blue Sky for letting me steal "matrilineal."

this post is linked with One Shot Wednesday.


  1. Ha! You beat me to it! But you did it so well I can only applaud! I loved watching this transformation - and in the Serengeti, one of my favorite most dreamed about places.......love the attack on the reality tv show and the "are you getting this?" Only you have such a wickedly sharp sense of humour. I love it! Fantastic write, as always. My matrilinear will be less lion-ish - but there are likely to be fangs, hee hee!

  2. Where one came from is not one's destiny. Those lessons you learned from your human family were the kind of lessons that would make one lay down and die and wait for the devil and never know love. Not, you, lovely lion. You stripped yourself of lies and ties that bind and found a mother in nature and learned to show your teeth. So that that the woman with the camera let your smile run her off. I feel sure you have a killer smile.

  3. Shay - you always have a surprise up your sleeve or claw.

    I can see the sinews of the lioness stride. Hear that snarl like only the feline can create.

    I love that semblance of oneness. There aren't two worlds or beings but one.

    A One Shot marvel

    Moonie swipe

  4. A great story within a poem. You had me from the first words. Really and exciting piece to read.

  5. i am lioness, hear me roar! hose stinking reality tv show people...heres there reality...smiles. feral shay...smiles.

  6. Phenomenal piece!

    You and the lioness have so much in common...you're both "sweet, sweet bitches!" ;) xo

  7. love it lady...when you show your teeth......"children cannot eat mercy"....again I applaud your write....bkm

  8. We can learn so many lessons from people of what not to do...and so many from animals of what to do....love this one Shay...beautiful writing as always!

  9. "Whatever it was is gone"


    What an imagination you have, Kitty!

    Purrs & Warm Aloha from Honolulu

    Comfort Spiral

  10. I say wow, too. Intriguing and mysterious.

  11. This is absolutely brilliant – vivid, moving, wonderful. Thanks for bringing it to us.

    Take care, Boonie

  12. There is so much being said and images I am going to read it again. The concept. Great Poem :)

  13. You had me at "And from my mother I learned that nothing is safe, and not to trust love." And from there the journey left me speechless.

  14. you sure have the heart and courage of a lioness... as for laughter vexing the devil, i say, laugh, laugh, laugh!

  15. I like this feral woman ... hear her roar!

  16. What great images!

    Wonderful One Shot, Shay!

  17. lovely photograph & poetry.. a great one shot! :)

    My One Shot!

  18. Bravo Shay. That was incredible.
    xo jj

  19. "If I return with nothing, my children cannot eat mercy."

    That is fierce, baby!

  20. I enjoyed this quite a bit! There's so much to take in here that it warrants an extra reading.

    You are fierce, Shay! Pleased to meet you through One Shot Wednesday.

  21. Okay, I'm-a have to look up "matrilineal" to be sure, but I can piece it (or parse it) well enough to get the gist.

    My favorite line? "Laughter vexes the devil."

    Beauty, Shay.

  22. Very well said and the way the verse holds the thought and the storyline is so beautiful...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay

  23. I had to pop back in to give you one of my weekly Goddess Awards. You an collect it any time you want, if you want.

  24. This dazzled me, Shay! I have posted previously about the magnificent lionesses who bear scars borne of their fight to feed their young, and their indolent mates. I actually cropped this shot to cut out the bloody hunk of wildebeest carcass I thought might offend those bloggers who only expect pretty pictures...:)

    So glad you stopped by...

  25. This is written right before I began blogging--how awful that I could have missed it. The story is addictive, no shred of the improbable distracts from the inner soundness--that is what this woman would do, you just feel it,. the end line--I couldn't agree more--remember that lesson learned at mother's knee and stay with the pride where all care for each. You did with this what I wanted to do back when I was writing my lion poem, and so sleekly. Fine fine writing, Shay. I leave a wildebeest on your doorstep in homage.

  26. Such beauty, nature, and wisdom here:

    "one who lies so still will not rise again except in dreams"

    "Then we are bursting into the open in streaks of yellow"

    "If I return with nothing, my children cannot eat mercy."

    "I feel something,
    Then I dip my head and show my teeth.
    Whatever it was is gone."

    Now I miss Big Brother.



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