"The Eighth Continent"

“The eighth continent”
A smooth body of water full of little round islands,
Like a flotilla of pillbox hats
One like a forest of cream-colored asparagus with blue tips
We went to Nosy Tanikely, a smaller island off Nosy Komba
The bizarre flora and fauna seem to be the result
Of a mad collaboration
Among Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson, and God
New species are found regularly
And some that were supposed extinct
Have been rediscovered
Every time you return, this island will shed another veil
In its dance of seduction

The hotel has declared its own time zone, an hour ahead
An individual daylight- saving-time package
A troop of sifakas were in the trees right outside our villa
They seemed happy enough to preen in our enchantedness
And strike comic poses
We took a thousand photos of them
They were rascals and bandits
Jumped onto our shoulders
And sat on our heads
And made us laugh and laugh
Two-dozen photos in which a moving foot occupies the top of the frame
I thought they might send thank-you notes after our visit

The village musicians hook up to scratchy amplification
And play funky traditional-ish music
The music was good and the people were beautiful
And there was much pleasure all around
The breeze was heaven, there were no bugs
These are also nights of love
The sensual delight of intimacy was immeasurable
I had not expected to get excited about lizards
I was particularly taken with the large, blushing tomato frog
Including a plump pale one with brilliant turquoise eyelids
We got very muddy
Once you fall in love, you cannot bear to think of leaving

We strode into the Analamazaotra Special Reserve
It looks like an Indian goddess with a splayed skirt
And dozens of arms gyrating madly
Quickly climbing up a mountain
And down and up and down
We saw red-fronted brown lemurs,
Red-bellied lemurs, Milne-Edwards sifakas,
A brown mouse lemur
And a troop of greater bamboo lemurs
As well as a ring-tailed mongoose and a civet
We also saw a gecko tinged a green
That I thought had been invented
By people who dropped acid

We heard our first indris
Like humpback whales crossed with air-raid sirens
A strange, high waffling tone
That seems inconceivable coming from a land mammal
Their ululations were deafening

We made our way out of the forest
And onto a magical road covered with graphite dust
It looked silver in the bright sunlight, right out of The Wizard of Oz
Our flight, for which we had tickets, did not exist
Where a minivan full of food waited for us
We had a live chicken in the vehicle, who kept squawking
You have to stay in a vehicle, because lions will eat you
And hippos will trample you
And rhinos and buffalo will charge

The vehicle began to sink in the sand
So we all got out and pushed and heaved
Three minutes later we sank again
We reached the last real town at about 5:30 p.m
I was ready to kiss the ground

Our guide fetched us by boat the next morning
That morning we zipped along
We hit a day of sunshine

"The Eighth Continent"


San Diego, United States

  • Artist

Artist's Description

This is a Found poem, meaning that I found the phrases and arranged them. This one happens to be from a January 2008 issue of Travel + Leisure Magazine. It was an article about Madagascar.

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