The Crying Puma

This selection is paired with The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells. Get the full issue of NonBinary Review #21 at

“Experts Say Southern California Mountain Lions Could Become Extinct in 50 Years”.—

You wouldn’t let me live.
Your freeways and your strychnine
kill and maim the same
as Moreau’s House of Pain.

The sea’s a distant cry.
Through the pass I follow deer
up the hillside to the Getty.
Rich men love their art
more than they ever loved their beasts.

So I hid my ears beneath a hat
dressed in a fine wing-collared suit
served tea and macarons
to the wealthy donors on the hill.

They smiled and saw me not.
The crystal clinking hurt my ears.
I snarled and no one noticed
until there came the tears.

Someone had grown a heart
or had one implanted in a lab
and heard my miaows and gulps
over the strolling violinist.

Console they would not allow
and so, my cover blown,
I leapt before the bodyguard
could untangle his shoulder holster.

The roar of traffic matched my own
(and they say we do not roar)
as I fled and feared for my life
but no bullets twanged the air.

If you had the choice
to save the last Puma concolor,
or else the favored Brueghel’s Ark,
I hope you’d vote for me.
You may not have a choice.
I think I hear the sea.

Denise Dumars is a widely published author of poetry, short fiction, and metaphysical nonfiction. She is currently nominated for the Rhysling Award for her poem “Mars Must Remember.” Mountain lions, aka Pumas, live within the County of Los Angeles, not far from her home in L.A.’s South Bay, but are dying from eating animals killed by rat poison.