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Table Turning

She sat her purse down on the kidney-shaped coffee table,

turned on the floor-lamp, and called

the monkey over to have a chat.

What had he done

today? She wanted to know.

He had climbed the palm tree,

he said. She knew this wasn’t true

but didn’t press the point.

Late night he would—arm around her neck—admit

he had trampled the snow drops.

He had chewed on his tail.

He had mindlessly complied pictures of flamingoes

cut from magazine pages

and fashioned them into an enormous collage.

He had had it framed.

He had taken slides.

He had submitted them for review at an upstart gallery.

The curve of his tail made an S-shape

as he slid from the sofa.

Sulking now he said, See

what you’ve done?

And she did see. And together they sobbed.

Sigmar Polke, Illus. 3, Essay: "Early Influences, Later Consequences or: How Did the Mokeys Get into My Work? and other icono-biograhical questions" (trans. from the German by John S. Southard)


Mary Jo Bang

Mary Jo Bang is the author of seven collections of poems. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.


The Brooklyn Rail


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