A contagion of recorder music, kids dancing
shoeless at the orchard. They can’t identify the llama:
Some call it Henry, others Jacob. They feed it
donuts because they’re eating donuts. Many of us
grew up sharing, never learning to keep our hands
outside the fence or the difference between sharing
and being led into temptation. Maybe our moms left
the crust on: how would we know peanut butter
tastes any other way? Or maybe she cut our pizzas
with scissors instead of designated pizza tools? The llama
surely thinks the donut is delicious: see how his eyes
roll back as he drools from his underbite into his pen,
his hooves deep in shit. The donut’s delicious, right?
A DRAIN FULL OF EELS
The sewer grate was covered in eels, but who knew
where they came from? Not the guy tossing tackle in the bed
of his pickup. Their mouths were bleeding and the flies
had begun a sunny afternoon feast. The smell of their bellies
rose like heat from a charcoal grill, and, in their eyes,
Barbara, a stranger with dirty blonde hair and yellow
peep-toe wedges. She asked me to read poems out loud
on a bus crowded with after-workers in suits and flip flops.
Before getting off at Dudley, she picked a scab off her leg,
assured the driver: God’s making me more visible every day.
IF YOU GIVE A CHIMP A GIN AND TONIC
—for Lucy (1964–1987)
she might nuzzle between you and your wife
on the couch watching M*A*S*H
and masturbate. And if she touches herself
while you’re watching M*A*S*H, your wife
giggling on the other side, you might be tempted
to buy the chimp a Playgirl. If you buy a chimp
a Playgirl, buy only back issues—it’s much cheaper
and the chimp won’t know the difference.
If you buy your chimp back issues and she
derives no pleasure, but instead, rips apart
the penises, perhaps she knows the difference.
If your chimp’s not aroused by smooth chests
and phalluses, next time take her to the porn shop
to pick her own magazines. And if you take her
to the porn shop, don’t be surprised if she arouses
the clientele’s interest by choosing a copy
of Back Door Bitches. If your chimp chooses
a fetish mag instead of something you’d
expect, she might have developed a mind
of her own. If your chimp has acquired her own
preferences, perhaps she isn’t a chimp at all
And if you think she’s not a chimp, you might
be tempted to let her believe she’s your daughter.
If you teach your chimp to sign and call you “daddy,”
she might learn to depend on you. If you encourage
your chimp to count on you, she might lose
hair and refuse food when you leave her
encaged in a Gambian jungle. And if your chimp
begins to pull her hair and starve when abandoned
far from home, surrounded by animals, don’t worry—
she probably just wants someone
to fix her a gin and tonic.
Angela Voras-Hills earned her MFA at UMass-Boston and was a fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston. She currently lives in Madison, WI, where she teaches workshops through the Writers in Prison Project and UW Division of Continuing Studies. Her work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Cimarron Review, and Barnstorm, among others.