Don’t Deny Kinfolk by Richard Peake

Where did Jonathan Swift find his
models for the Yahoos raining filth
on poor Gulliver in horse land?
He merely copied our close kin.
We love to see the antics of primates
who provoke us to spasms of laughter,
yet many of us are hard to placate,
refuse to believe we ape gene mates.

Observe the Siamang swinging through trees
of Malaysia, or his cousin gibbons.
Hearing their clear, ringing songs I’m free
to remember our common ancestry.
I hike a long day to see gorillas.
We sit with them during their siesta
where they rest easily on leaf pillows
before they resume eating plant filler.

When the big daddy silverback jumps up
to challenge us, thumping his chest,
he frightens us more than his active pups.
Then he turns and moves out, disdainful, abrupt.
Gorillas’ reserve and strength create respect
that swinging monkeys and chimpanzees don’t.
Primates politically incorrect,
chimpanzees greet us with wet disrespect.

Uganda chimpanzees up high above
gift us with urine showers.
They look down, gesturing, grinning, kind of,
and hurl fruit missiles without love.
Citing kinship often prompts objection.
Tarsiers and lemurs, less astute primates,
seem less human, less of a reflection
on folk who refuse family connections.

How many monkeys and orangutans
have we left in cut forests of Asia,
Africa, and South American lands?
No primates travel savannahs but man.

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