The mighty force - Dân Làm Báo

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The mighty force

< A >
A prose poem

"The majestic roars pulsate and ripple through the air, accompanied by the musical cheers of the wild animals. 

Together, the sounds create a dignified melody, an echo of unity and righteousness from a distant past, like the pounding drumbeats urging the warriors to kill the invading enemy in a battle, the rumbling sounds of waves arriving in succession in a rising tide, the simultaneous shouts of thousands of men raising their fists high in the air. 

Together, they unleash a magnificent force, mightier than Nature, that explodes to break the chains of brutal oppression, destroy deceits and ignorance, and bring back the indomitable spirit of thousands of years of history."


In the remote grasslands of the immense African savanna, a strand of hellish virus mutates and propagates through the air. The mutated virus attacks only a particular kind of wild animal: the spotted hyena. Once infected, the hyenas become extremely violent and cunning, more violent and cunning than they already are. They also turn fearsome, as if to be compatible with their new personality. Their claws lengthen, their teeth sharpen, and their jaws strengthen. The females become highly fertile, their litter size grows tenfold. Soon after the viral pandemic begins, the hyena population increases exponentially. They appear everywhere in the tropical grasslands, forming clans of hundreds of individuals. 

Superior in numbers and equipped with formidable physical strength, the mutated spotted hyenas quickly dominate the savanna. They attack carnivores, harass big animals, chase scavengers, and massacre herbivores with merciless brutality. The campaign of terror lasts for weeks, dispersing herds of buffaloes, breaking up droves of wildebeests, and disintegrating flocks of gazelles. 

On a day near the end of the rainy season, the hyenas decide to launch the final onslaught with the intent to liberate the peaceful and thriving land from the rules of Nature and turn it into hell. They roam the immense grasslands in huge packs, thousands of them spreading in columns like branches stemming from an Acacia tree trunk. At first they indiscriminately attack whatever wild animals they encounter, but later converge on their greatest enemy: the lion. Several lion prides wage vicious fights against their long-time enemy. But the kings of the savanna soon learn a painful lesson. Not only are they outnumbered, but they also face opponents that are surprisingly powerful and ferocious. Surrounded by thousands of determined maniac hyenas, the lions fight a heroic battle; while their powerful paws deliver deadly blows to the enemy and their sharp claws and big teeth rip them apart, their strength gradually wanes under the onslaught. The once mighty lions eventually have to run for their lives in humiliating defeat. Several flee the bloody carnage by crossing a wide treacherous river to an island. Some drown, and some lose their lives to the hungry crocodiles waiting in ambush. Those that are wounded or cannot escape suffer agonizing deaths. Many are mauled to their last breaths. Their dying growls shake the earth, reverberate through the air over the vast land in fading rhythmic spasms as the last hues of orange and red of the setting sun sink below the horizon. 

Listening to the weakening sounds of defeat from the kings of the savanna, other predators and big animals realize it is the end of their golden age. The leopards and cheetahs hurriedly carry their cubs in their mouths and hide them in caves, hollow trees, and bushy ground pits. The elephants stop trampling the trees. They flap their Africa-shaped large ears and raise their trunks, sniffing the air. Soon, they abandon the grasslands and travel West to find a safer place. Their occasional trumpets accompany the moaning of the lions, rendering a ghastly chorus of poignant sounds. 

While the animals retreat to safe hide-outs, the triumphant spotted hyenas celebrate their victory in parades all over the grasslands. They dance in groups, bob their elongated muzzles and sloping backs, trot among themselves back and forth in their loathsome uphill-limping gait, greet each other with body rubbing, and emit high-pitched giggles and staccato whoops. The gazelles, wildebeests, impalas, zebras, giraffes, warthogs, and buffaloes tremble at the sight of the victorious snarling hyenas. Helpless and terrified, they bow their heads to the new masters. 

Somewhere on the other side of the river in deep caves scattered within the isolated island, the surviving lions and lionesses lick their wounds in pain. Their cubs are hungry and tired after a long race and an exhaustive and perilous journey through the water, but they still play their innocent hunting games.

Night falls in the savanna. Darkness blankets the grasslands. Silence permeates the still air. Fear heightens. Tomorrow the sun will rise, but Nature on earth will no longer be the same. The viral pandemic has opened a new chapter in the history of the African savanna: the chapter of terror. 

Another day, another month, another year. Life goes on through the wet and dry seasons. Rivers overflow and evaporate. Plants grow abundant and die. The wild animals continue the game of predators and prey. But it’s no longer the hunting game because there are no chases and no escapes. Day after day, victims submit to their rulers. Without protest. 

Unable to live with the evil hyenas, a large number of bold wild animals flee the grasslands by crossing the crocodile-infested river; most fall victim to the scaly-skinned pirates, some make it to the island, and some abandon their plan after realizing the futility of their efforts to escape. Most of the wild animals cannot afford to leave the grasslands where they were born and raised, but to survive they have to change their behavior or accept whatever happens to them. Leopards and cheetahs are reduced to scavengers. Mutated spotted hyenas now rule the savanna as the only predator. 

A gazelle mother stands motionless watching the ruling bandits devour her fawn whose brown eyes are still wide open. It’s a heart-wrenching scene for any mother, but in her pure and simplistic mind she believes her son will find comfort in his slow death knowing that his mother is beside him. They eat the tiny creature alive, eviscerate him, chew his bones, lick his blood. The mother knows it will soon be her turn, but she doesn’t care. She is tired of running, tired of fighting, tired of living. 

But for some other herbivores, inaction in the face of impending peril is not an option. A young buffalo, lost from his herd, stumbles upon a group of hungry hyenas. He is viciously attacked, but stands up for a formidable fight. His eyes ignite with sparks, sparks of exploded enmity. He turns left and right, goring the enemy with his sharp horns. But his enemies laugh at him, taunt him, play with him like playing with a toy. One against a dozen. It’s no match. It’s not fair. But it’s the game of the rulers. In the end, the heroic young buffalo crumples to the ground in exhaustion. The hyenas tear him into pieces, rip up his belly, gobble up his intestines. Lying flat on the ground, the young buffalo soaks the ground red with his blood. He watches his killers snatch pieces of his flesh away. His breathing soon stops. His eyes close. Like a spark extinguished by drops of rain.

Life goes on. A few sparks here, a few flames there, erupt violently in desperation, only to be quenched by sharp claws and powerful teeth. Cries are muffled. Muteness reigns. Life goes on through the wet and dry seasons. Life goes on through the thunderous downpours and the withering heat. Life is hellish for weak predators and helpless prey. Life is heavenly for the hyena bandits. 

Nature realizes her mistake, but there is nothing she can do. It will take a force mightier than Nature to repair the broken cycle and restore the beauty and balance of the wilderness. 

It’s another quiet day of deceptive peace in the savanna. Everything appears normal. The sun rises, sending early rays of sunlight across the grasslands. Thousands of well-fed hyenas lazily sleep on high ground in the shade of the umbrella thorn trees. Pieces of bones and broken horns and hooves are scattered around them, residues from their kill during the night. They used to pulverize them, but not anymore because fresh flesh is abundant around them. At the border near the river, groups of young hyenas leisurely play the rulers’ game with each other. Further down, the gazelles, zebras, wildebeests, and buffaloes congregate along a swampy area, graze the green grasses or chew scattered leaves, each with a calm knowledge that this may be their last meal. 

There are sounds of approaching animals, but they ignore them and mind their own business of living another hour, another day. 

Emerging from the tall savanna grass, not far from the river, a group of visitors arrives, visitors from a long lost kingdom. Six lions, sisters and brothers, now young adults, appear. The three brothers with their majestic manes of thick golden fur walk slowly side by side with their three slender-framed sisters. Their grand-parents, parents, aunts and uncles have died some time ago in the island. The young lions now want to explore the territory beyond their caves. They cross the river, now almost dry, cautiously avoiding the dwindling population of crocodiles. They don’t know that this enormous grassland, where they were born, used to belong to their prides. But when they see the old baobab trees, smell the familiar scent of the acacia bushes, taste the nostalgic dry air, hear the breeze rustling on the grass, and feel the reminiscent soft volcanic soil, they know this is their territory. 

The dozen young hyenas stop playing hide and seek and watch the strange new comers with curiosity. They are too young to know what these creatures are. Spoiled brats, they think these are a new species of prey. Much less imposing than buffalos, easy to take down, they reason. Their golden manes are beautiful. Their flesh must be delicious. With confidence, they rush to the lions and lionesses, raising their tails straight up. They emit shrieks, high-pitched giggles and staccato whoops, surrounding the siblings as they snarl in heightened excitement. 

Surprised by the hostile greeting, the lions step back. Encouraged by the apparent concession, the hyenas jump on the visitors. What a mistake! Instinctively, the lions strike back with ferociousness. The brothers swat the attackers with their massive paws, sending some into the air. The sisters spring to the fallen bandits and rake their skulls with their big teeth. It’s a short fight. There is no struggle. Three hyenas die instantly, their necks broken. The remaining wounded hyenas are hysterical and terrified. They emit soft grunt-laughs and limp away in confusion and chaos.

The brothers send out a chorus of majestic roars, the mighty sounds of insurrection, the noble resonant tones of victory, waking up the vast land. The roars bring back long forgotten past glory, enlivening the wild animals. The savanna suddenly awakens with energy and exuberance. The elephants raise their trunks high, blasting out their loud trumpets. The leopards climb down from the trees in hesitant steps, making rasping calls. The cheetahs emerge from the bushes, dart to the lowland with grace, and exchange chirrups of excitement. The buffaloes pause, emitting long rumbling bellows as if they were humming prayers. The gazelles tilt their heads, stop wagging their spindly tails, utter high-pitched snorts. The zebras stomp their feet, bray deep cries. Circling high in the air, the vultures hiss. 

On the high ground, thousands of sleeping fat hyenas wake up. A few old matriarchs raise their heads high, ears back and tails low. In horror, they recognize the roars of the former kings. The devils shiver in chilled-to-the-bone fright. The angels have returned!

The majestic roars pulsate and ripple through the air, accompanied by the musical cheers of the wild animals. 

Together, the sounds create a dignified melody, an echo of unity and righteousness from a distant past, like the pounding drumbeats urging the warriors to kill the invading enemy in a battle, the rumbling sounds of waves arriving in succession in a rising tide, the simultaneous shouts of thousands of men raising their fists high in the air. 

Together, they unleash a magnificent force, mightier than Nature, that explodes to break the chains of brutal oppression, destroy deceits and ignorance, and bring back the indomitable spirit of thousands of years of history. 

The mighty force keeps growing and growing.

Like a fire burning the grasslands with intensity that nothing can stop. 

Not even the rain.


Notes: “Prose poetry is poetry written in prose instead of using verse but preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis and emotional effects” (Wikipedia 2014). “Prose poetry should be considered as neither primarily poetry nor prose but is essentially a hybrid or fusion of the two, and accounted a separate genre altogether. The argument for prose poetry belonging to the genre of poetry emphasizes its heightened attention to language and prominent use of metaphor. On the other hand, prose poetry can be identified primarily as prose for its reliance on prose's association with narrative and on the expectation of an objective presentation of truth” (Wikipedia 2014). “The prose poem can range in length from a few lines to several pages long, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects” (Academy 2004).

The following prose poem (Cao-Đắc 2014, 323-331) is taken from the book “Fire In The Rain” with permission from the author and the publisher.


Academy of American Poets. 2004. Poetic Form: Prose Poem. 

Cao-Đắc, Tuấn. 2014. Fire In The Rain. Hellgate Press, Oregon, U.S.A.

Lehman, David. 2003. Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. Scribner, New York, U.S.A.

Wikipedia. 2014. Prose Poetry. Last modified: 8-15-14. (accessed 8-25-14).

© 2014 Tuấn Cao-Đắc 
© Copyright 2019 Dân Làm Báo, All rights reserved

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