In poetry this week – Beach bear, 1800s

In poetry this week/ Beach bear of 1800s
by Jan Godown Annino

(!st – Poetry Friday is served by Jama’s Alphabet Soup</a>.)

I’m sharing a bear on the beach poem I wrote, published
in 2006. It was inspired by an account of a traveler
in 1800s Florida.

You may not know what is happening in Florida

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015 a nearly 20-year ban on killing
this state’s remaining wild bears is to be lifted.
Up to 320 random bears, mostly minding their own
business in woods of North Florida &
Central Florida, far away from tourists, can be
shot. And shot. And shot. And killed.

I repeat, wild black bears in our lovely & wild forests
which remain mainly in Central and North Florida, will
lose the safety of deep woods for the duration of the hunt.
This includes females who have cubs.
Where will they run to? Where will they hide?


Here is my poem.

Beach Meal, 1820s
by Jan Godown Annino

first published by Milkweed Editions, 2006

The beach is lit by the light of the moon
when she-bear pads along the shore

She stops
lifts wet snout to salted air
moves on

She repeats this testing until
sniffs satisfy

She pads to a sandy place on strong feet

Sand and shell bits plume

to snow back down on thick fur
she digs

She stops
shoves her mouth into a mound

She tears and slurps
soft gift from the sea
round white balls

A secret treasure chest
buried by a sea mother

She-bear shoulders through palmetto
to home,

frosted with smear of yolk
with glitter of sand
©2006-2015 Jan Godown Annino
revised 2015

I hope your news outlets will carry information about
protests of the hunt.

For years, this state that still holds pockets of paradise
despite being loved to death by a populous that has made it 3rd in
the nation, has struggled with balancing panther, sea turtles + bears
against growth, new housing + winter visitors.

Almost magically, we have areas where wild panther
And we have clear waters with several species of sea turtles. They
are protected by lights out or lights dim at night, so the pregnant
females can be encouraged to pull themselves along sand, to lay eggs. Once,
our state residents + visitors took them for soup and shell.

And, once, bears were protected in Florida.
Until now.

I don’t know what accounts for the political change.
Visitors + residents still rank our nature parks + national forests +
protected estuaries + beaches as top reasons they return.

I do know that uninformed residents feed wild bears, either deliberately
or inadvertently via trash. This makes me think of
uninformed visitors + residents who try to get close to alligators
for a photo op.

There are so many ways to restrict garbage collection sites, to
impose rules, as in Canada, about family trash bins. So many
other strong education measures to take that is more than advice.
So many enforcement measures about feeding bears.

Instead, bear-feeding people have flaunted the situation. And
that provoked encounters that sent people to the hospital.
And now we have a bear hunt.

If you are interested, here is the address of the Florida
Chamber of Commerce. It may be worthwhile to let them know
that the business of hunting bear isn’t as important as
the business of attracting wildlife-appreciating visitors

Florida Chamber of Commerce PO Box 11309 Tallahassee FL 32302
twitter @FLChamber

If you have a connection with a visitors/tourism bureau in a
part of the state, you may also want to contact them.

I don’t know what accounts for the political change.
Visitors + residents still rank our nature parks + national forests +
protected estuaries + beaches as top reasons they return.

image copyright all rights reserved Jan Godown Annino
image copyright all rights reserved Jan Godown Annino

We don’t hunt manatee. Anymore.
Why bear?


12 responses to “In poetry this week – Beach bear, 1800s”

  1. Save me a seat at that table, will you? I’d like to join you two, and Jama as well!
    So sad to read of this; I still have lots of folks in Florida but they hadn’t mentioned this. Thanks for the thoughtful thoughts and beautiful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Appreciations for your visit Robyn. You know our state is the source of so
      many headlines – the bear hunt likely got buried in the newstalk. Everyone is
      trying to find out who the permitted hunters are – some “celebs” among them, apparently!


  2. Jan, I did not know about this issue so i thank you for illuminating me. Your poem is filled with visuals of the she-bear. Since I have never seen a bear on the beach nor a turtle, I was intrigued by your poem of sand glistening, white balls of eggs, and rows of palmetto. It provides me with a different perspective about the bear who roams the mountains of NYS.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So much of what the Florida legislature does is beyond my understanding. I may live here, but I doubt I will ever consider Florida “home” thanks to far too many political nitwits. On a positive note, your poem is gorgeous, Jan. “Frosted with smear of yolk/with glitter of sand” is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you & I could talk for HOURS Michelle.
      Poetry. Children’s Lit.
      And then, F L O R I D A, where the right way, which seems simple to follow to me, goes horribly wrong.

      Appreciations for your visit & your kind, kind words.


  4. I’m sad and disheartened to hear they’re lifting the hunting bear ban! I didn’t know this was happening. Thanks for filling us in.

    I love your poem; it’s luminous! It fills me with reverence for the wild she-bear, the images so vivid I can almost smell the salt air.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The bears deserve a bit of slack, considering how much territory, such as the summer beaches laden with sea turtle eggs, they’ve
      stopped appearing at, thru the years. Appreciations so very much for your thoughts, Jama.


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