Notes on Literature: Poems That Have Turned My Head #10

Posted by Michael Borshuk On 2:10 PM

National Poetry Month, Day 6.

Ape

You haven’t finished your ape, said mother to father, 
who had monkey hair and blood on his whiskers.

I’ve had enough monkey, cried father.

You didn’t eat the hands, and I went to all the 
trouble to make onion rings for its fingers, said mother.

I’ll just nibble on its forehead, and then I’ve had enough, 
said father.

I stuffed its nose with garlic, just like you like it, said 
mother.

Why don’t you have the butcher cut these apes up? You lay 
the whole thing on the table every night; the same fractured 
skull, the same singed fur; like someone who died horribly. These 
aren’t dinners, these are post-mortem dissections.

Try a piece of its gum, I’ve stuffed its mouth with bread, 
said mother.

Ugh, it looks like a mouth full of vomit. How can I bite into 
its cheek with bread spilling out of its mouth? cried father.

Break one of the ears off, they’re so crispy, said mother.

I wish to hell you’d put underpants on these apes; even a 
jockstrap, screamed father.

Father, how dare you insinuate that I see the ape as anything 
more than simple meat, screamed mother. 

Well what’s with this ribbon tied in a bow on its privates? 
screamed father.

Are you saying that I am in love with this vicious creature? 
That I would submit my female opening to this brute? That after 
we had love on the kitchen floor I would put him in the oven, after 
breaking his head with a frying pan; and then serve him to my husband, 
that my husband might eat the evidence of my infidelity … ?

I’m just saying that I’m damn sick of ape every night, 
cried father.

--Russell Edson

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MICHAEL BORSHUK is Associate Professor of African American Literature at Texas Tech University. He is the author of SWINGING THE VERNACULAR: JAZZ AND AFRICAN AMERICAN MODERNIST LITERATURE (Routledge, 2006), and numerous essays, reviews, and encyclopedia entries on African American literature, American modernism, and music. For ten years, from 1999 to 2009, he wrote on jazz regularly for CODA MAGAZINE. His fiction has appeared in ANTIGONISH REVIEW, DALHOUSIE REVIEW, ELYSIAN FIELDS QUARTERLY, SHORT STORY, and 34TH PARALLEL.

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