Sunday, April 14, 2013

Poetry Month

To Help the Monkey Cross the River
by Thomas Lux

which he must
cross, by swimming, for fruits and nuts,
to help him
I sit with my rifle on a platform
high in a tree, same side of the river
as the hungry monkey. How does this assist
him? When he swims for it
I look first upriver: predators move faster with
the current than against it.
If a crocodile is aimed from upriver to eat the monkey
and an anaconda from downriver burns
with the same ambition, I do
the math, algebra, angles, rate-of-monkey,
croc- and snake-speed, and if, if
it looks as though the anaconda or the croc
will reach the monkey
before he attains the river's far bank,
I raise my rifle and fire
one, two, three, even four times into the river
just behind the monkey
to hurry him up a little.
Shoot the snake, the crocodile?
They're just doing their jobs,
but the monkey, the monkey
has little hands like a child's,
and the smart ones, in a cage, can be taught to smile.

4 thing(s) to say:

amy said...

What a nervous-making poem!

Cat. said...

For whom? The monkey?

I liked the outside-the-poem contexts that are involved here, and the twist ending.

amy said...

No, for me! Well, yeah, and for the monkey too.

It is a poem that took me somewhere far afield from the place where I started, and left me startled in a good way.

Cat. said...

Good. ;-)

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