Leopard [15 Words or Less]

Hello, and welcome! This is 15 Words or Less Poems, a low-pressure way to wake up your poetry brain (guidelines here), and I’m very glad you’re here. 

I was at the Minnesota Zoo Friday night for an awesome Five for Fighting concert. He was on piano or guitar with string quartet. Very cool. And it was cool. Overcast and a bit drizzly. We were all tucked into the amphitheater in our hoodies/jackets with the bats swooping overhead and the lake shimmering behind the stage and lights playing on the backdrop. Lovely. Anyway, this pic is part of a grouping of eye-catching metal sculptures.

Amur leopard at Minnesota Zoo
Photo: Laura P. Salas

This image makes me think of several things:

  1. How quietly leopards stalk their prey and then wait–like statues!
  2. How artists bring life into these basically flat pieces of metal–it’s a mystery
  3. What kind of music would different animals dance to?

And here’s my first draft. Oh, dear. That took a dark turn, didn’t it? These sculptures were all in an area that is a splash pad for kids when the zoo is open. The other sculptures are less threatening: a big bear and cub, a tapir family, raccoons frolicking overhead…but the leopard looks pretty threatening. I was just picturing kids playing while it watches them.

Field Trip to the Zoo

It’s your turn! Have fun and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS! (Title doesn’t count toward word count.)





49 Responses

  1. This week I wrote my poem without looking at your draft or comments first. Clearly, I saw the threat of the leopard as well! I love how you structured your poem with those sticky fingered giggling children surrounded by the predator.


    No jaunty polka dots
can camouflage the
lethal grace and
coiled muscles

    poised to pounce

    1. I do that too! I see the pic, zip off a draft and THEN look at Laura’s poem. I too easily copy otherwise. And, she always has a great one.
      Pounce is such a perfect last word!

    2. Love the “coiled muscles” especially, Molly. I think because coil is not only a great word, but it also calls to mind metal, so it works both with and without the photo!

    3. I also look at the photo and read the inspiration behind it, then write my draft before reading any poems. Jaunty polka dots and menace…very cool!

  2. Oh, the fragrance of sweets and sunscreen and giggles. Nothing better.
    I’d track it too.….if I were at the zoo. 😉


    Playing statues
    at the zoo

    Keep in mind
    the rules

    run faster
    than you!

    1. At the Indpls. Zoo they have a timed race course where a kid can see if he runs faster than a leopard. (I don’t think anyone has, yet!)

  3. I like the pic today poem By Jessica Bigi

    The Artist’s Creation

    bellowing hammers steel
    flaming sparks create
    Arties beware
    Chatters sharp teeth
    Iron claws awaiting victory

    1. Jessica, hammers, steel and sparks aptly portray an artist’s love of working with metals. Good job.

    2. Love those “iron claws”–and isn’t it a fun picture? I did filter the photo, but it looks almost that cool in real life:>)

  4. Yikes, Laura! I’m glad that leopard’s bolted to the ground!


    Silent prowling
    through the night,
    when it’s light.

    And if spotted?
    What a fright!

    1. Cindy, you described fears I experienced while reading a book about early British settlers in Africa. I like!

    2. I adore those first four lines, Cindy. Feels like a somewhat spooky summary of the leopard’s life, indeed!

  5. Good morning all. I know a number of kids who would love a leopard on guard at their splash pad.

    Calling Dorothy!

    Made of metal
    Prone to rust
    Bring Tin Man’s oil can
    Else I become dust.

    1. Oh, this is wonderful. Is your tiger a housecat? That’s what I’m picturing, but thought I’d double-check. I am in love with “an arrow in a bow.” What a fabulous description of an animal waiting to pounce!

    1. You described well the life-like look of the leopard and the ROAR added the exclamation mark.

  6. Sounds like a great setting for a concert.…unless of course, your leopard comes to life!

    Nighttime in the Zoo

    skin taut as metal
    steel muscles ready to spring
    faceless menace waits

  7. Your poem makes me think of all those videos of the big cats stalking kids behind the glass enclosures! I love it. The image coupled with the concert made me think of dancing cats.

    Big Band Cats

    Leopard does the Lindy Hop
    Jaguar, the Jive
    Jumping, Twisting, Pouncing
    Then they take five

    1. It’s eerie when the big cats pace back and forth watching, isn’t it. Ha! It’s a sock hop with big cats. Love it!

  8. I love how the cat is frozen in its stance.

    African Life

    Dotted metal leopard sitting in its stance.
    Waiting, Waiting, Waiting.
    Frozen like a statue.

  9. My poem is for those affected by Hurricane Harvey. One rescuer plucked an armadillo from the water, but the only place to put it was on a little bit of land crowded with displaced people. I can only imagine how panicked it was, and how helpless the people felt watching their homes go underwater.

    water rising
    the animals
    homeless too

    1. This is so sad. So much devastation. The starkness of your poem, and the fact that it’s unadorned with punctuation or capitalization, emphasizes that.

  10. Laura your ending was perfect, who wouldn’t want to gobble up those sticky, sweet children! You’re concert was the inspiration for my poem.

    Jazz beats,
    Rhythm and blues.
    Stopped me in my tracks,
    And soothed the predator inside.

  11. Laura, I clearly see how this fabulous piece of art inspired you to write your poem and why you say that it took a “dark turn”. It looks scary…My poem took a dark turn, too…


    Surveys surrounding smugly.
    Spotting small, silky sweeties
    Slurps saliva,
    Soars suddenly!




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