Susan Richardson is World Animal Day poet-in-residence and in this specially-commissioned poem for World Animal Day 2015, she imagines an afterworld containing all the animals who have tragically become extinct over the centuries as a result of human-induced activity, and speculates as to which endangered species will follow if this behaviour continues unchecked.   

AFTERWORLD 

Here, all animals are equal,
equal in extinction. 

The Moa, long ago
an is-no-more, dozes 

with the Golden Toad;
the Aurochs shoulders 

the load of the Great Auk.
The Quagga logs 

all recent arrivals –
the Western Black Rhino, 

shorn of her horn,
Lonesome George crawling 

from the island of himself,
the Spix's Macaw clawing 

at reports
of captive survivors. 

The Pyrenean Ibex
takes vertiginous bets 

on who's next ­–
the Caspian Tiger's 

wild striped guess says
the Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth's 

outpacing
himself, racing past 

the red edge
of his mangroves, 

while dead glaciers wait
for the kiss 

of the Snow Leopard's tread.
And look, here's 

the Common Skate,
swimming against 

the tide of her name,
cartilaginous kite 

snarled in infinite
promises.

.........................

Susan is also the poetry editor of Zoomorphic, the online literary magazine that features writing in celebration and defence of animals. Published on October 4th, the latest issue is dedicated to World Animal Day – it includes work from an international array of writers, all of whom have been moved to respond to the animal welfare/endangered species theme.