“Ode to Baboon,” “Elephant, Room” and “Reaching Out”

Issue 41 by Rand Bishop

“Ode to Baboon,” “Elephant, Room” and “Reaching Out”

Ode to Baboon

Were you and your healthy

liver nearby?

Were you an excess mouth to feed

in some municipal zoo?

Or were you carefully culled

from some robust family

roaming the Ruwenzoris

and in a frenzy flown

Bujumbura-Pittsburgh,

held incommunicado

until the propitious moment?

Were you strapped down on a gurney

paralleling the man

sedated in the theatre?

Were you anaesthetized

before the scalpel slit

thorax to genitalia,

clamps hitched your hide

east and west

and the knife severed

the pulsing purple jewel

passed to the patient?

And after, did your liverless

corpus lie in state,

eulogized, get borne by hearse

to granite mausoleum?

Or did your unused organs

end up in a sack

left in a land-fill dump

in toxins, excrement and clay?

Elephant, Room

I live in

the living room of your head

you feel my bulk eating space

though you don’t see me

pretend I live at the circus

or on Serengeti’s plain

many times removed

from polite company

My mammoth ghost hides

in the cave of your mind

lurks in the cellar

of your psyche

douses from time

to inconvenient time

cold water on your comforts

announcing I’m still here—

hooves, tusks, trunk,

pachyderm ears and all—

your unwieldy undesirable

inopportune brute

muddying the murky nooks

of your passing fancies

trumpeting my beast of being

I will camp here

in your mind

as long as you think

 

Reaching Out

Your voice is sunken,

hollow in the recorder’s

low fidelity.

It tells me I’m (you’re)

not home right now but

if you (I) leave your (my) name

and number after the beep I (you)

will call you (me) back,

beep.

 

The beep is high, impersonal,

says lots of high tech

has gone into this effort

so would you (I) please

compose yourself (myself) and do

your (my) business now,

time is money,

you (I) have twenty seconds.

 

I flounder, thrown off guard

by the machine voice,

self-conscious how I’ll sound

recorded a year from now,

hating being told like

a dog now speak.

 

Yet I speak my prisoner of war

name and number,

start a phrase and stop,

knowing you will hear me

only after you

shelve groceries, fix a drink,

sit, listen at your leisure

to my copied voice

while I (me)

no longer think of you (you).

About the Author

Rand Bishop

Rand Bishop has offered English courses at several universities, primarily at the State University of New York (Oswego), and including a Fulbright Professorship at the Universite Nationale du Gabon. He has several academic publications; his poems have appeared in about two dozen literary journals.