we are great apes
we are great apes; we are great sometimes; we are not kings of any jungle; we used to tie our feet with leather we used to eat whatever we killed or found; i’ve only killed bugs, i’ve only eaten bugs i haven’t killed; at a bushmeat stall in Laos i saw monkey carcasses draped over a plastic table; we aren’t very great but not so long ago we kindled pockets of sun from rocks and sticks; my students call orangutans ‘monkeys’ to make me mad and it works every time; we are great apes; i watch a video of an orangutan washing herself with soap, a video of kanzi the bonobo using a lighter and toasting marshmallows; my second memory is flinging a burnt marshmallow like a fist of napalm; chimps hunt in packs and tear a colobus monkey apart like a body of wishbones; i watch clips of silverbacks drumming their chests and bellowing into primeval forests; we howled with conch shells and microphones and blunderbusses; i’ve seen koko the gorilla and robin williams tickle one another, their hands like siblings; i drum my chest and holler into my apartment; ooooh ooooh ooooh oooooooh; not long ago we lived in the cradle of acacia trees; my first memory is falling from the lowest branch of a maple; ooooh ooooh ooooh oooooooh
Brendan Walsh has lived and taught in South Korea, Laos, and South Florida. His work appears in Glass Poetry, Indianapolis Review, Baltimore Review, Wisconsin Review, and other journals. He is the author of four collections of poems, most recently Buddha vs. Bonobo (Sutra Press), and the only flesh to feed you (YellowJacket Press). He’s online at www.brendanwalshpoetry.com.