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Listening to the Monkeys of

the Nearby Yerkes Regional

Primate Research Center


Humidity has made them homesick,

This thick, cicada-d Georgia June.

The heat is ancient and nostalgic,

Familiar is the doubling moon.


Upon my stoop I hear their calling,

Their long, lugubrious ululations,

In languages, rising, falling,

Of a thousand monkey nations.


The night is shallowed-out with lamp-gloss,

That streets may rise like tricky rivers

Raccoons think they can ford across

To join their families or lovers;


Or 'possums, with their human feet,

Who also cross, and see as stars

The kind lights swooping down to greet

Them from the swift, oncoming cars.


The night is hollowed-out with fearó

These voices, the bathometer,

This somewhere-past-the-second beer

Helps me but to hardly bearó


I want to call before they stop,

To bridge our two captivities,

But I would wake my neighbors up

Who frown on such proclivities


Of poets or of indigents

Abusing words or alcohol,

Confusing the experiments,

To ask the meaning of it all . . .


No answer comes, no answer comesó

But owls, air-conditioning, trains,

The silence of opposing thumbs,

Superior and sober brains.


Alicia E. Stallings



© Alicia E. Stallings.  From Archaic Smile,

University of Evansville Press; originally printed

in Hellas; reprinted by permission of the author.

Background by Nyanna

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