by Suzanne Duarte

April 7, 1998



Their forests are burning.


Vietnam vets dump

water from helicopters

on forests like tenderboxes                    

dry from drought

nine months long.


Rainforests without rain,

only home of these  primates,

sweet arboreal herbivores,

ancient redhaired cousins.


The vets are volunteers,      

working unpaid

to save the orangutans.


But it isn’t enough.


More water would help,

Mother and Child © loveearth.com

more money is needed,

not enough humans care



Orange flames lick orange fur.


Borneo’s burning


rainless rainforest

months on end

choking smoke

burning eyes



Rescued Orangutan Orphans

A barely viable population

now reduced by one-third.

  Rescuers pry burned babies

from mothers' charred bodies       

in charred trees —

orphaned, starving


barely alive.


An infant screams

as doctor pulls

his finger from her tiny grasp.


Collapsing into metal cage

she wails in sheer despair —

the cry of a species going extinct

as all the world can see

on BBC TV.


© 2009 Suzanne Duarte