“The God Zoo” by Richard Prins

Richard Prins



blimps above
the walrus shade.
Jesus rides an elephant
away from Calvary. Sparrows
learn to fly, pitched from Ganesh’s
trunk. Muhammad’s mastering the art
of a blowhole ablution. Wildebeest chuckling
at Moses’ wimpy forty days. Caesar’s gassy after sharing
unripe mangos with a chimp. Marx is munching grass. Lost a bet
with Nebuchadnezzar. Buddha chucks some birdseed, lectures the pigeons
about desire. Ra folds after a plague of platypusses; his firstborn’s grown a beak.


Twin walruses sharpen their tusks on the dunes.
Buddha’s navel a lager spout.
Only a fool would chug the end of desire.

The wildebeest flies upside-down, jousting all the stars.
Muhammad wears a tunic of sequin nipples.
Only a fool would record their voluminous lactations.

Pigeons crap on godhead an eggwhite fedora.
Jesus plucks thorns out of his prom night eyelashes.
Only a fool would unbutton that snarlyhaired tuxedo.

A chimp is licking termites off a shark tooth comb.
Elvis gets rich off a lunch money racket.
Only a fool would wipe a toilet down with mutton chops.

The elephants windmill their snouts, inhaling each tornado.
Ganesh snorts a boogaloo on his nostril trumpet.
Only a fool would scrape that flugelhorn free of barnacles.

Rows & rows of whale vertebrae. Time to build a railroad.
Ra smells pyramids with every beard-stroke.
Only a fool would refuse a chance to mummify the queen.

Sparrows ford rhinoceri across the fishleaping river.
Marx redistributes chin hair to all the eunuchs.
Only a fool would alienate this harem’s labor.

The platypus is still sloshed and dancing by herself.
Caesar skiffs his gondola across the sky.
Only a fool like Cleopatra would try to flag him down.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
Tribute to Speculative Poetry


Richard Prins: “When I was eighteen years old I fell asleep on a late-night train and woke with my jacket pocket knifed open, the pocket that always held my wallet. After a few desperate grabs, I found my wallet transplanted to my pants pocket, no money missing. A napkin, however, with two poems inked on it, had been extracted. I’ve been mugged twice since then, once in Brooklyn, once in Dar es Salaam, and still curse myself—why didn’t I think to recite a poem to my attackers?” (web)

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