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Our Very Essence & Rhinos

2 Poems by Douglas Lanzo

Our Very Essence

When the world
does not have the ability or will
to fund its basic necessities:
food, clothing and shelter, and beyond that,
the fundamental things that help
sustain a humane quality of life,
inspire our dreams,
demonstrate our humanity,
uplift our souls,
better our character,
instill our passions and
spring our steps when we awaken each day;

When we do not meet the needs of
city soup kitchens, temples, churches,
homeless shelters or local blood banks, or
worthy organizations battling childhood cancer,
rehabilitating wounded veterans, feeding orphans,
placing foster children and saving the abused, or
non-violent organizations championing
justice, dignity, equality and opportunity or
battling discrimination, oppression and immorality, or
artists of all walks who challenge and inspire us
through music, from symphonies to street rap,
through literature, from epic novels to flash poetry,
through painting, from frescoes to street murals,
through sculpture and images, from statues to 3D printed works:

then truly are we impoverished and diminished
as human beings and as nations,
denying the very essence of who we are.

Rhinos – Prehistoric Treasures Poached to the Brink of Extinction

Across ancient epochs, a wonder of the earth,
roaming Eurasia as land mammal of largest girth —
eight meters high, twenty tons in weight —
dwarfing elephants, who sealed their fate;

Out-competed for food, by rival trunk,
once vast forest supplies soon shrunk; 
that genus fell, but others rose,
with padded hooves and odd-numbered toes;

Some resembled hippos, with modest tusks, 
aquatic dwellers, chewing grass and husks;
others roamed the plains, with massive horns,
charging at threats that stalked newborns; 

Abundant species spread over distant lands,
mainly solitary creatures, eschewing bands —
growing thick horns and woolly coats,
throughout ice ages, sowing their oats;

Descended from thriving and storied kin,
now close to extinction for matted skin —
greed of poachers, and rich man’s pride,
decimating rhinos, their cruelty decried,

Slaying stationary rhinos, at watering holes,
horns detached at the roots by merciless souls —
shipped to Asia for prices higher than gold,
to vanity buyers with fortunes untold;

Peddled as a medicinal cure,
ground into powder to treat diseases obscure,
rumored to detect poisons and purify water…
all without merit, inducing senseless slaughter;

With northern White Rhinos functionally extinct,
fates of five remaining species are inextricably linked
to whether struggling Asian and African nations
can protect dwindling populations from devastation.

Time is running out for this unique herbivore,
once the most prevalent on earth, now in a war —
critically endangered, fighting for survival,
billions of years in the making, praying for revival.

Douglas Lanzo is an award-winning author and poet. Doug’s recently released debut novel, The Year of the Bear, placed second in the Firebird Award’s Coming of Age Category and has been nominated for the Newbery, Selah and Illumination Awards. Doug is also the author of 303 poems published in 64 journals and anthologies in the US, Canada, Caribbean, England, Wales, Austria, Mauritius, India, Japan and Australia that may be found at  He resides in Chevy Chase, Maryland with his wife and twin sons, award-winning haiku poets who likewise enjoy nature, tennis, snorkeling, fishing and chess.

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