Poetry Award

Return to the Birmingham Zoo
from Clarion #0 1998
(the issue entitled "?")
Matthew Boehm

All Aboard
Time's hazy steam dream locomotion!
More coal for the fire of ages!
And as the solemn-sweet whistle
invokes the journey between,
the conductor turns back surveys his crowd;
below the supple soft skin of his frail fontanel
beams a gummy grin of youthful promise.
Train lurching forth
And in the feeble beams of a nascent sun
colors swirl and convene in endless parades
of flip flops
          and tank-tops
                    and buzz-cuts.
As Morning's child
Under a mystic spell of gypsy fish and prophet turtles,
I must have known only
          the elegance of eagles
          the humor of hippos;
          the bold beauty of a Technicolor toucan.
Innocence lost
when cotton-stickyred hands picking gum from the ground
were slapped with lesson love's intention.
Under the blister of an impartial noon,
the tireless train devours the years.
Hot waxy sun creeps into the cells
eating away shadow's illusion
revealing only the concrete mirage of junglegreen
and the sweat swollen ass of the mocking baboon
puckered pink in a perversion of laughter.
Coal upon coal and increase of speed,
the face of the captain now wrinkled and gaunt;
in the approaching horizon
a rusted sun is sung to sleep
by the hazy rumblings of the dissident clouds.
The indignant peacock opens her eyes
while Elephants resound their wise clarion call.
From the retreating caboose
I can hear
          the silent screams
                    of moonmad men
                              with flabby knees
who stare helplessly
at the masturbating monkeyman.

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