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Hominid Up


I write at night when the old hominid
climbs up to the highest branch of the brain

and crouches there in a leafy crotch
listening to the night-sounds snarling below ...

his heart outracing the big cats of the savannah.
He's glad I'm civilized and live indoors,

far from the tooth and claw. Glad my central
plumbing works, my TP dispenser full,

so he doesn't have to shit off a limb.
And though he loves roosting with birds,

the wind rocking him, talking through the mouths
of leaves, he loves also how the birds have

been stuffed into the softest down pillows
where he may lay his head and dream. Dreams

are scarce as water-holes where he's from,
one eye always open for danger, one

for hunger. We're kin for sure: the old beast
in me sleeps lightly or barely sleeps.

I wake often and watch him scratch himself
with a twig that could pass for a pencil

or poke at a moon-lit line of ants that
resembles this scratched pentameter.

Some nights we almost meet at a forking branch
where he chooses silence, and I, this speech.


Neil Shepard

Hominid Up
Salmon Poetry / Dufour Editions


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