16 November 2016

The Elephant in the Room is White

Image result for elephant decals

African Elephant Wall Decals

The white elephant in the room was huge
but skinny, so if we sensed it curling round
our ankles we thought it as small as it
was narrow, thought it insignificant.

Some said there was a bad smell in the room,
something quite dead and rotten underneath
the couch, but we with warmed ankles could feel
hot breath along our sinuses, could tell

the thing amongst us lived.  We didn’t want
to draw attention to it—not as long
as our conversation remained pleasant—
we were trained to let “well enough” alone.

So we each bit our tongues and wasted time
while the white elephant ate crumbs that dropped,
became pregnant and multiplied until
we had no space to move or make new friends.

But no one heard the elephants, no one
leaned down to pet their bristly hides. No one
pushed them away or looked under our seats
to see what color corpses lay beneath.

For my Prompt at Poets United 
Midweek Motif ~ Invisibility

My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast


  1. One thing we had learned that having good conversations without undue influence or hassles were pleasant and enjoyable. Let not provocations and unnecessary bickerings spoiled the evenings. Let the white elephant be! A great poem evoked lots of interpretations as in this one Susan!


  2. that's exactly how danger lurks about & settles & multiplies...ugh...so well put...

  3. Just brilliant. We live with our skinny white elephants, both alive and dead, in complete denial. Loved this poem.

  4. You have artfully how insidiously and almost invisibly the white elephant grows.....until it cannot be ignored, when it is (almost) too late, when the corpses (that one had wanted to ignore) are found lying beneath the sets. Sad commentary on today.

  5. A clever timely write Susan.

    It is so easy to ignore the elephants...until they trample us to death...

    Kind regards
    Anna :o]

  6. My goodness this is good! Especially the image "No one pushed them away or looked under our seats to see what color corpses lay beneath" left me absolutely breathless! Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,

  7. Thisis a profound treatise to denial, for the best way of dealing with those issues we would rather not is to vanish them into the realm of invisibility, even though we are wary of the pregnant factor

    much love...

  8. This is so brilliant! You have put into words the decades of polite chit chat ignoring the burning issues underneath that we have lived through. The lid is off now. May the white elephants rise and look through awakened eyes. This is an important poem, my friend.

  9. Ah yes, the invisible elephant that stands in our midst. Denial is easy to do when it is only an occasional whiff, that can be swiftly ignored, forgotten in center of other pleasantries. Well structured piece, and is a reminder in darkness we are finally able to see.


  10. A wonderful expansion of the 'elephant in the room' idea, carried to its logical conclusion – and alas, all too common. A good warning! And I love the witty details which make thees elephants so real.

  11. Well told bitter truth. But I believe one day...
    hopefuly not too late

  12. wow well expressed you make what is not discussed come alive. This poem would apply easily here in NZ but not in the Netherlands as people are way too direct

  13. What is so puzzling to many days is how unreadable our world has become. (Of course, it doesn't help that we've forgotten how to read.) How could we not see the massive shift that was nowhere then everywhere at one, the invisible white elephant herd suddenly trumpeting in triumph? Mad people can't see the darkness at the center of their thoughts; white fragility is like that too, blind to the racism which drives its narrow and declining dominance. This poem was an excellent way to get a handle on that invisibility in our midst.

  14. I wonder why your poem reminds me so much of the recent presidential election in the U.S.? What you've written is both delightful and sobering.

  15. Thank you Susan. This is exactly how many are feeling today. The feeding and festering of an unknown. May we all be brace to speak up and melt the colors...bkm

  16. Oh, that's how it is...sigh! The poem applies to an obvious risk no one wants to discuss -- that of an elephant in a room -- is just impossible to overlook/ignore!
    Thought provoking poem, Susan!

  17. Yes, indeed, we ignore elephants in the room at our peril, Susan... Now the fact that the elephants are white is a brilliant touch in this poem. I enjoyed this...


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