LEADING THE APES IN HELL
Such a tumult greeted my descent,
filling my head with a chittering,
gibbering, shrieks ripping the heat
with the sound of tyres skidding.
Legions of gibbons lined the thoroughfare,
over them bunting and streamers melting,
dripping hot plastic onto their hair.
The naked apes I knew in my life: all yobs,
feet stinking, wild drinking, the cheating.
So I waited to govern gorillas, give them jobs,
have my gang-busters break up their meetings.
The sedulous apes were my minions.
The best spies, easy bribes. Little shits.
Brought me back plots and Punic opinions.
They followed orders and carried out hits.
I nursed a chimpanzee for three weeks,
smacked the monk’s bald patch of his bum.
The fichu of my frock was spotted with leaks.
At four months, he ate the top of my thumb.
Orang-utans were the dullest of students:
drug-eyed, hippy-haired, walking on knuckles.
But oh, well-versed in back-chat and impudence,
so I legislated the belt and the buckle.
Trials drew crowds, sure as a putrid smell.
The accused were imprisoned in lava-rock huts
and faced public floggings, but this being hell,
even the brassiest monkeys held onto their nuts.
And so I’ve held power for aeons and aeons,
I’m a force with whom to be reckoned.
If beckoned, the servants will come on all fours;
their wrinkled leather fingers will rid me of lice.
They tell news of who comes through our city doors.
Their loyalty is far beyond price, these my flunkeys.
Softly, very softly, I catchee my monkeys.
Poets's Note: The title refers to the fate of a woman who dies unmarried.
“Tis an old proverb, and you know it well,
that women dying maids lead apes in hell.”