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Comments Posted 02.15.13 | PERMALINK | PRINT

James Arthur

Poem from Behind a Gorilla Mask


Fuck you to the following:
(I can't keep track of names) anyone you know
with a waterfront view. All your accusers
and all whom they accuse. The many aching
to be the few. Drum-bangers, gangbangers,
self-hangers, demigods. Those who make the love,
love the peace, or make the killing.
I include myself as well; I know how sympathy
rots the heart. Thank you
for your love. You get my pity in return.
I wrote this on a Tuesday
sitting in the park.


Editor's note: If you read about a strange behavior, you'll expect an explanation. If you read a poem from behind a gorilla mask, you'll expect the poet to unmask himself. Instead the poem ends with a setting, the park, implying that his reason for misanthropy wasn't a baroque psychological motive but a perverseness in the public space itself. You're left with a wonderful conundrum: was it his sense of isolation and anger that made him feel as though he might as well have been wearing a gorilla mask, or was he sitting in the park with his mask on, composing his poem? –Adam Plunkett
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James Arthur is a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and a former Stegner Fellow. "Poem from Behind a Gorilla Mask" is from his first collection of poems, Charms Against Lightning, released by Copper Canyon Press in October 2012. Reprinted with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
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