National Poetry Month: A Monkey Sonnet or An Ode to Dian Fossey

One of the best poems I think I ever wrote was actually my first sonnet.  I wrote it in college for an assignment in a poetry workshop somewhere around 1996 or 1997.  I remember the professor butchered it so much it wasn’t even a sonnet anymore, but he was like that. This is also the poem that gives my chapbook its title.

swinging vine and Congo tree
chattering in zoo for nuts, popcorn
cage and syringe in laboratory
blamed for a disease, the way I was born

teach me to sign with my chimp hands
beating drums, scalped heads, expensive pelts,
wicked witch sends us flying over Dorothy land
I shine to what King Kong felt

for man’s descent, an easy reminder
riding a bike in a circus side show
pennies in a cup for the organ grinder
a human on my back that will not let go

three wishes and a monkey’s paw
ask Dian, she saw it all.

I love the lack of punctuation and capitalization. Just in comparing that to some poems that I posted earlier this month, I love seeing how I grew as a poet in such a short time. My poems don’t seem so clunky and ridged.

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, I’ll try to post at least two more poems of mine before the end, but I’m also going to share some magnificent pieces from some other poets I admire. Check back tomorrow for another poem!


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