Sound Track
by Anca Vlasopolos

    unsummoned, it appears as we turn off the VCR,
    a show about chimps in African rain forests.
    Alone arrested despite the lateness of the hour,
    the fatigue, I remain to see and hear how
    this ape society unlocks our mysteries
    ____tools, sex and war and death, maternity
    but the show predictably climaxes with
    chimpanzees no longer satisfied
    by nuts and fruit
    cameras follow a band of hunters and
    the intended prey,
    the chimps so clearly brighter than any living under
    this canopy but those behind these technical eyes, behind recorded voice,
    those who shortly will make short work
    too of this ancient place.

    Three males ascend—the harrier, the herder, and the one
    who’ll bring the monkey down—
    is there drumming on the sound track?
    my heartbeat in my ears?
    now watch as monkeys themselves no dummies
    start screaming warnings to one another
    start a mad scramble for the thinnest branches
    that will hold them not the heavier pursuers
    is there drumming on the sound track?
    my heartbeat?
    watch as the chimps miss the red monkeys
    quick learners catch up with one black-white
    who scurries into the trap
    is there drumming on the sound track?
    my heartbeat?
    watch as the hunter falls upon it, then the other two,
    then the whole band except a cocky challenger
    who for his hubris is expelled from meat
    is there drumming on the sound track?
    heartbeat?
    watch as the meat, “still very much alive,”
    is being torn apart, camera relentless in its close-up
    on the monkey’s face, these knowing eyes

    is there drumming on the sound track?
    heartbeat?
    then watch as more companionable than in so many cases us
    the chimps share and share alike

    is there drumming on the sound track?
    that hunt
    that screaming prey
    did you not see me, you
    in those casual gestures of good companionship
    ____examining a strip of pulsing flesh
    ____passing it on to growing youngsters
    did I not glance out as life ebbed into your watching eyes
    ____how shall I now find sleep?






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