I want to start an argument

with a tiger. I want to provoke him.

I want to growl back at him,

bare my teeth when he bares his

so we both flash the long sharp knives

of our conviction. I want to cross

the line. I want to call him out

from behind his leafy cover,

square my shoulders, match his crouch

and when he lunges, I want to lunge

so we crash against each other. I want

to tear his bizarre orange hide, bite into

his velvet throat. I want to suffer

his heavy blow to my chest,

I want him to open

my skin. I want him to stand

his ground so I can rise up

on my two legs against him, so we

can lock arms in a fierce embrace. I want

to push him back, I want him to shove

me back until we are both crazed

with rage, equally. I want the dust to rise

like an emptied arena around us. I want

to stay like this for days, deadlocked

for weeks, then years, constant until we shake

from exhaustion, caked in our bloods

and salivas, holding tight

to the others’ neck, breathing deep

the angry musk of a foe. I want

to hang on, to endure beyond logic,

until we could almost give it up,

go home—No! Impossible to forget,

no recourse but to live

straining hard against each other

while our opposing hearts drum:

one beats yes, one beats no,

the muscles’ rally to fight. I want

an oath to rise from my breast,

I want him to answer me back.

I want to fight a tiger to the death.

–Arlitia Jones


8 Comments on “Poem with a Tiger

  1. Arlitia! I love, love, love this poem! Seriously, just about the time I think I know everything you can bring to the table in poetry – which is a LOT – then you surprise me again and again. I love your mind, woman. Thank you for this poem. XO Anne


    • Thanks, Anne. I know you have a tiger circling you, too! I wrote it awhile back. Kinda scared myself when I did. I remember reading it to Dan and he just kinda stared at me, mouth agape.


      • It’s important to remind him from time to time that he married a tigress. Lest he forget. And get pounced…


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