Animals & Architecture

i. Bridges & Buffalos

The first buffalo met the first bridge
in the American continent
before grandparents.

The first bridge to meet a buffalo
tensed its spine
and sighed little creaks
and found the hooves familiar.

The first buffalo to meet the bridge
wondered at how easy it was
to reach the grass across the stream.

The first bridge to bear the name
of Buffalo Bridge
was built by a man from Ireland.
It was eight feet across.

The first and only buffalo called Bridge was born
in the moment between two centuries.
His favourite things
were the red-striped top of the boots
of the farmer that raised him,
and grass.

ii. Whales & Movie Theatres

Few whales have been in movie theatres
in the flesh, but many
have had their images projected inside them
and you’d think that on some level
they must be aware of this.

To make a whale-accessible movie theatre
you would need a lot of water
and some very strong glass.

To make a movie that a whale would enjoy
more research needs to be conducted.
Perhaps they would like to see
large swarms of krill, or other whales,
or perhaps they want something novel,
a grassy plain, a mountaintop.

In the hamlet of Whale, in Cumbria, England,
there are no movie theatres.

iii. Zebras & Pipe Organs

They share something between them,
the fragmented verticality,
up, down, up.

I think a zebra could play a pipe organ
if it knew to try,
if we could somehow
impress that this is important.

The cecum organ of a zebra,
located at the end of the small intestine,
hosts symbiotic bacteria
allowing them to better break down cellulose.

The first zebra called Pipe
might be born,
if we make it happen.
The first zebra called Organ
is a harder cause
to gather momentum for.

I wasn’t going to forget
the black and white keys,
and the stripes of the zebra,
lines nested in their opposite,
states defined by their duality.

author photo of Ruben Mita credit photographer Margo Montes de Oca

Ruben Mita is a poet, musician, and ecologist from Wales and Tāmaki Makaurau, now living in Pōneke. He has been published in a range of Aotearoa journals including Landfall, Takahē, Starling, Sweet Mammalian, Tarot, Turbine | Kapohau, and A Fine Line, and won the 2022 Story Inc. Poetry Prize through the International Institute of Modern Letters. He has degrees from Victoria University of Wellington in Science, Music, and English. He likes fungi, fish, and fires, and tries to write poetry that plays with overlapping realities.

Ruben comments: 'The starting point came from using a random word generator and trying to think of connections between the two prompts, which were "bridges" and "buffaloes". You could say it’s about the constant give-and-take of influence between everything in the world, even things that might seem disparate, or the interaction of the non-human world with our unliving creations. Maybe it’s about fluid compatibility and incompatibility. It didn’t come from a compositional technique or form that I’ve ever used elsewhere, and I don’t think the final poem is very representative of the poetry I usually write, or will write again. It’s more of an exercise than anything, but it was fun.'


​Poem source details >



Ruben Mita's website


Photographer credit: Margo Montes de Oca