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ANGER / Maxine Kumin Family feeling— even on Mount Olympus their tongues were forked by it. The angry sisters tear at the paper nest they themselves built of tedious octagons. The brothers line up with longbows at either end of the green. The parents arise in their graves whispering on tiptoe lest the neighbors hear and a pair of pale cousins wring their hands dry of the whole affair. Past clockstrike past the last looping of tires down the wet street their common genes scratch and spit. The little familial tig jigs. Tears throb to spill. The dead have long since lain back down with regret but whoever he is that early greatgrandfather Zeus whose stubborness is yodelled from alp to alp, awakens, watches and rubs the ashes of lament into his scalp. The Missouri Review · 23 THE POETS OBSERVE THE ABSENCE OF GOD FROM THE ST LOUIS ZOO / Maxine Kumin November, that time of year the Lord created and forgot, the big cats lurk diminished in the mouths of their manmade caves . Most of the pink has been bleached from the huddled flamingos. The camels squat over the nests of their folded legs. To this place the aging poets, old friends, neither quite dressed for the morning chill, come flailing their arms in thin sunlight. They stroll through the kingdom of roars and smells, they shelter in the murk of the Aquarium, peer into the mouths of ancient sea turtles, follow the bursts of minute tropical fish but do not raise the eternal questions: Is utility the one criterion for creation? Does form follow function? Neither chooses to cite the neck of the giraffe, the rhinoceros's horn. Nothing is said of the opposable thumb by means of which in the next pen a muscular attendant in souwester and boots force feeds dead fish to the penguins, cramming the smelts headfirst like grain being tamped down the craw of a Strasbourg goose. O Deus absconditus, the tamed formal birds, glutted for the day and balancing without shoulders, waddle about their confines. Each of the poets notes how helpless the natty creatures look, how that in itself is pathetic fallacy. 24 ¦ The Missouri Review They move on, arms wrapped round each other's backs. Both are writing this poem in their heads in a tight-lipped month between extreme weathers while their lives speed by like outbound traffic. Maxine Kumin The Missouri Review · 25 ...


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pp. 23-25
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