A Giraffe in My Back Yard – Poetry by Milton P. Ehrlich

Niko Piroosmani – Giraffe

I often see deer and wild turkeys
in my back yard, but this morning
a nebbishy-looking giraffe appeared
with baleful eyes, a downcast mouth
and a plodding gait.
He looked like he might be an incarnation
of my old friend who was also very tall
and had the same gawky walk.
It must have escaped from the Bronx zoo
and swam across the Hudson looking for me.
When we interned at Jacobi Hospital,
a paranoid patient once remarked:
“That Doctor looks like he never
had a gay day in his life.”
My friend had a depressed mother
who spent days in the bathtub—
requiring her son to keep checking
to make sure she hadn’t drowned.
My friend grew up across the street
from the Bronx Zoo and identified
with the loneliness of the giraffes.
We went hiking every weekend.
He loved to roast marinated Shish-kabob
with chocolate-covered halvah for dessert.
When I fed the giraffe the same meal,
he smiled for the first time.


About the Poet

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 88-year-old psychologist and a veteran
of the Korean War. He has published poems in The Antigonish Review,
London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin
Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Christian Science Monitor, and the New York
Times.

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