Barnum brought some beluga whales

to his Museum across from City Hall

hauled them behind a belching steam

engine from up near Canada

700 miles across the land of America

he was told they were a male and a female

perfect white oblong shapes

bathed in a bucket of salt water.

Oh dear God, when the museum caught fire

in the freezing winter

the whales swam in their tiny tank

in a slow, roiling boil

until the floors buckled

and in sudden shock

the were poured out onto Broadway

among the flaming timbers

and broken bricks

flapping helplessly

in a shower of sparks

as firemen screamed in fright

and the moon hid her face

in the black smoke.