Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Zoo

    Congregation and Communion

            Back at the room, bare
            except for where I’d nailed Christ
            to the wall, we debated
            the holy word in jubilance
            fortified by drink.

            But in the ennui and boredom it brought,
            we created the church            and its steeple
with only our clumsy paws.

            Later, loaded, and no longer limited
            by tactile sensation,
            we set off seeking fulfillment
            in the afterhours haze of a nearby zoo.

            We scaled the fence
            as monkeys chittered
            and snakes sang in the moonglow.
            Like animals, we ran amok,
            calling out to each other in the dark.
            We thought to search for something nunlike.

            When we found it we formed a line,
            each of us taking a turn
            spanking the penguin
            on her warm, velvet bottom.

*          *          *          *          *
This poem goes back nearly 10 years. My friends and I would sometimes go to the Como Zoo in St. Paul in the middle of the night. There was a wolf pen close to the parking lot. We could see the wolves padding around inside the pen, watching us over their shoulders, but apprehensive about getting too close to us. We would get down on our hands and knees next to the fence and knead the ground with our front paws and the wolves would come right up to the other side of the fence, inches away, and sniff us. Sometimes they'd knead the ground with their front paws as well.

This poem is fairly direct and true to life at that time. Did my friends and I actually queue up to spank the penguin? While I'm reluctant to openly admit to any wrongdoing, let's just say that the event was not without the penguin's approval.

First published:
The Rapids Review, Spring 2004

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