Those Extra Stripes

by Duncan Jones

"I wish to look so strong and tough

And wear those extra stripes!"

Said the youngest of the zebras

(His were only blacks and whites)

The quickest glance across the herd

Would show a sea of scars

Some seen only in the daylight

Some seen even under stars

And the unaware was mesmerized

He wanted to look brave

He did not understand the look

Was not a thing to crave

So one by one he met and asked

The elders marked and scarred

And all the hardened others

That he held in high regard

He found some had met the giant teeth

That wait below the deep

And many had met the golden cats

That haunt the herd asleep

Some had heard the laughter

In the darkest, blackest night

And some had run with the painted dog

And exhausted, turned to fight

But then he met an older one

With no scar upon his hide

No mark of any kind at all

No limping in his stride

And so the younger asked the old

How this had come to be

"I mean no disrespect at all

But you still look like me!"

“Well how can I speak of circumstance

Fortune, destiny or fate?

You may soon yet wear extra stripes

All you need to do is wait

For I too have run with the painted dog

And I have met the golden claws

I have heard the haunting laughter

And I have met the river's jaws

I guess that some of us are lucky

And time just lets us last

But then again," the elder grinned

"Some of us are very fast!"