Three poems

Kathleen Bryson

2021

First Person

I’m sure I initially saw you, the mandrill,
in a children’s illustrated photographic book or
possibly in a National Geographic pictorial and
I always think the same thing about your cream teeth and
Union Jack black red and blue mask
I always think the same thing
you are beautiful you are terrifying

I think, all hail the surreal primate troll
I think, the mammal clown with garish smeared soft
greasepaint crayons marking up your mask and
and I always think the same thing
in passing grades of As, Bs, 70%, firsts
you stalk the textbooks
of anthropology students and teachers and
and I always think the same thing
we the students and I try to think about
misogynist priority of access theories and
and I always think the same thing
you are beautiful like Halloween is beautiful and
and you are terrifying like Halloween is terrifying and
and it’s not October yet and
and it’s the middle of a pandemic and
and it’s what James Baldwin says when
I think about you says more about me

I don’t mean to call myself beautiful but
but perhaps I’m terrifying to others
marked up by lipstick and
and it’s what James Baldwin says when
when I think about you says more about me
alright then you are gorgeous you are beloved
you are witty you are friendly you will live to old age with
with the love of your life have happy grandchildren and
and a German shepherd mix
have the love of your family and
and your friends and the admiration and
and lust of those you desire
you are safe you are healthy you will achieve every
every dream you aspire to achieve you
you will rip off your
my mask
behind it I
you will see
see your
my blue nose your
my red nostrils your
my stripes

*

Train from Brighton, Several Years Before We Broke Up

A lake superior of bluebells.
The train stopped to let us have a gander.
The purplebells, bluebells had usurped
the traditional green and brown of
forest ground, flooded over the dull
olives and muds, rubber country boots and jackets
woodstuff alchemy to purple and blue
purple and blue
– purple and blue, to me and you –
through the window glass we heard it when
the birds chittered
the train knit-purled to shaky rolls once more
and in a minute we passed into a view of a parking lot,
with no shopping centre to qualify it.
Car upon car upon purple
metal upon blue metal upon red
metal upon silver metal upon yellow
metal inexplicable yet scarab-lovely in its own way
to my newly bluebelled eyes, and
perhaps for you the same,
till the planes flew by and I knew it
for the airport lot it was.

*

I’m Definitely Missing the Links Here

Proconsul is hypothesised to be
a candidate for the last common
ancestor a deferential potential
abdication to Nyanzipithecus alesi
supplanting notwithstanding.
She arrives in theoretical yesterday through
necromancy in our jungle paradise
el dorado mamilla as a given
to ruminate and birth control
all six living apes, her whole shebang:
humans, chimpanzees, bonobos,
gorillas, orangutans, gibbons.

We usually only see Proconsul
rock-and-roll in the fake
but familiar scala naturae. Debatably good intentions
auxiliar for the story but, as just one defect,
the scale incorrectly shows the state
of primate evolutions as a sole
progression towards adult European
human males as ultimate solutions.

Through an arrow-linear and narrow scale
from the Miocene to the present,
such a directed model of the in-between
is simple and seductive but reductively
stopbottles all other humans and other
animals who are themselves
accrescent from its tiers.
Like all the apes – including us –
Proconsul had no tale.

***

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