One Poem by Philip Burton

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Gorilla and Girl Under Each Other’s Wing

A David Attenborough moment

Informal, squatting forward, sharing a joke
the gorilla and the girl, meet in a clearing
among the diary of banana skins, recall
they shared the family tree (literally) till half broke off
across the elephant grass, lost in the waves
of green spears and stalking cats.

Maybe this is a mutual moment of recognition
of a cugina in una gabbia a cousin in a cage.
The light joke half fits each in turn;
the punch line is violent, to tickle the human –
while the more fruity simian version is,
Ooooghhghoohaaoo – lady as fruit-stone . . .

The photo further traps them. They pose
at absolute ease, as though the jest
were understood equally. And no doubt it is.
The beast’s forest is on fire. We label the smoke as mist
and thus fake a certain beauty, I suppose.
Those mighty hands hang heavy.
Those human hands hold an empty water hose.


Philip Burton, aka Pip The Poet, won two national poetry competitions in 2014-15, and was a prizewinner in the Ilkley Festival poetry competition 2013 and the 2005 Lancaster litfest. Philip is widely published in literary magazines, including Stand and PN Review, and in anthologies for children.

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