James Mulhern’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in over one hundred literary journals and anthologies. In 2013, he was a Finalist for the Tuscany Prize in Catholic Fiction. In 2015, Mr. Mulhern was awarded a fully paid writing fellowship to Oxford University in the United Kingdom. That same year, a story was longlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize. In 2017, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His writing has earned a Kirkus Star. His most recent novel, Give Them Unquiet Dreams, is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award winner, a Notable Best Indie Book of 2019, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2019, and a RED RIBBON WINNER, highly recommended by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards in the United Kingdom.
For the Animals
By James Mulhern
Lions loll in the streets of Johannesburg,
a sleuth of bears rise on hind legs in Yosemite,
wild boars advance through the Israeli city of Haifa,
crocodiles surf waves in La Ventanilla, Mexico,
penguins parade the streets of Cape Town,
mountain goats march past shops in Wales,
scurries of squirrels spring freely in a Santa Monica park,
flocks of birds cry out, and a chorus begins.
“Free at last, free at last,”
we say from behind our masks,
inspired by their bliss,
joyful in their fortitude,
sad it has taken this long
for us to understand so much.
I wish I was one of those mountain goats in Wales and not a nervous face-mask covered Brooklynite furtively poking my head out the door. “Is it all clear to come out?” Diminished by a virus. Captures the sentiment perfectly.