Silverback
by Hugh Tribbey


He picks his nose, then scratches his ass,
then crosses his impossibly long arms
over the great medicine ball of his stomach.
The old silverback at the Oklahoma City Zoo,
waits restless and passive, an exhibit
of failed wildness. The zoo's room service
has turned his meat sweet.

He waits with a nervous hope, not the dread
that haunts the hominid forebrain, rattles the voice box,
with the possibility of stepping into
an inescapable emptiness---poverty, infirmity,
the musty motel rooms of the dead.

Squatting in his emptiness,
the silverback shifts
his brown eyes back and forth
in the crumpled ebony of his face.
A puffy finger traces
random patterns in the straw.

He waits for that moment of mountain grasses
before the loud sticks of the poachers.






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