Saturday, July 18, 2009
Monkey Algebra? Why not? (Sunday's Poem 25)
To Help the Monkey Cross the River,
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.
Well. That had a twist ending to it, didn't it? I picked today's poem out solely because it had the word "Monkey" in the title, making it the only poem in the list I was looking at which had that feature. And then about halfway through it I wasn't going to choose it at all, but I was won over by rate-of-monkey, and then that twist: firing behind the monkey. That made the poem. That one little twist, that one thought, made me look at the world in a different way.