Post-Modern Prometheus

By Christopher Gardner


I went to the zoo today

to see the first wooly mammoth born

in the 21st century. 


They had him

in a special, too-small 


away from the other elephants

because they had tried to kill him.


He didn’t understand why. 


Sitting in the palm-frond shade, 

oversize ears fanning slow, 


in the San Diego heat.

The kid next to me threw peanuts. 


“When they brought the second mammoth in,”

The kid’s mother said to the wind,

“he gored it to death

right there.” 

She touched her breast bone, pointed out

the dull rust stain on the grass, 

on the bars. 


They didn’t understand why.


I think I understand

the look in his eyes. 

The way he couldn’t look

into the water

because he was afraid

of his own skin. 


The machine that birthed him

hadn’t told him

his name. 

Gene-spliced not-clone

Hybrid Erlenmeyer flask beast.


Is that him?


“I hear they’re gonna sell them

to Disney World.”

I wonder if he can hear it—

Lonely tundra wind call trumpets—

“They’re gonna do the Thylacine next.”