987. A Word with You, by Elizabeth Bishop

Look out! there's that damned ape again
sit silently until he goes,
or else forgets the things he knows
(whatever they are) about us, then
we can begin to talk again.

Have you tried playing with your ring?
Sometimes that calms them down, I find.
(Bright objects hypnotize the mind.)
Get his attention on anything –
anything will do - there, try your ring.

The glitter pleases him. You see
he squints his eyes; his lip hangs loose.
You were saying? - Oh Lord, what's the use,
for now the parrot's after me
and the monkeys are awake. You see

how hard it is, you understand
this nervous strain in which we live -
Why just one luscious adjective
infuriates the whole damned band
and they're squabbling for it. I understand

some people manage better. How?
They treat the creatures without feeling.
- Throw books to stop the monkeys' squealing,
slap the ape and make him bow,
are firm, keep order, - but I don't know how.

Quick! there's the cockatoo! he heard!
(He can't bear any form of wit.)
- Please watch out that you don't get bit;
there's not a thing escapes that bird.
Be silent, - now the ape has overheard.

Source: The Complete Poems, 1927-1979

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this poem! It's an inspiring one.

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