Two sonnets: an orange ape and bruised meat

Dunston Checks Out

Occupying the penthouse of the canopy, the King
of Ginger Swingers, Man of the Forest,
lived large. A two hundred pound bird
singing. Amusing with a thrust of his jaw
his jungle audience. And later on
the final place where you could see
his body lumbering, infecting with his yawn
a ragtag bunch of ennui brothers,
was in a glass box. And then there was one.
Studied, poked, prodded by mankind,
who pushed the final button and declared
this Titan of Apes to be blind, and while
the elevator sinks towards marble transience
we hold yet another impotent conference.


I wrote this poem for a competition, but then I didn’t enter it. Waiting for faraway deadlines and even more distant decisions is the thing of the past. I would rather share my poetry with you directly.

The competition had an environmental theme, and this poem is about the majestic orangutan becoming an endangered species. But it could easily be read as being about a certain controversial political figure!

I modernised the sonnet form for this poem, but my next sonnet follows the traditional form. It is a modern paraphrasing of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130.


My love’s eyes are not like a dying star;
Her lips more like bruised meat than sea coral;
Her skin like snow driven over by car;
Her hair not spun gold but more like sorrel.

I have seen the Rosa damascena;
No, her cheeks have more of a fever flush;
No delightful perfume, her hyena-
like scent cannot be fixed with a toothbrush.

The sound of her voice is not unpleasant
but it’s not musical in any way.
Not a dreamer, I live in the present;
I can see that my love has feet of clay.

But still I think she is exceptional,
because she is real and not fictional.


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