John FitzGerald


The Ape’s Notion

Opposing conditions, which may or may not be earthen,
angels of rain, fairies of twilight, forces of wind,
desiring sweets, grasses, and root,
give me the sum of all prayer till I want nothing further.

Open profounder, intimate spaces.
Still existence. Beckon forth.
For there are days that none can find me,
and the stream runs down the mountain to the ocean.

Who don’t believe in the animals?
Frog-step. We’re twisting hip.
Blown on like a wish.
Time is my address now.

Let the child-ape come ’round,
that I might ask what it remembers
of the emptiness it came from.
Do our same gods play different games?

Weren’t we animals, would we be cold?
Sleep in the trees so as not to be eaten.
Think of everyone as a feast, everyone.
Lion one day dragged in pieces by the ants before their queen.

Thus I worship fruit and branch
from behind eyes where the wood creaks and the leaf sways.
For I am ape, having in me ape blood,
and am loved better by The Tree than any animal.



The strut says I am, ooh, much more physical than you.
I’ve crouched on a limb and considered giraffe.
You’d better climb.
I’ll be up that tree on your primate ass.

Where I am men hide.
I’ll slap you like the monkey you are.
Paws out, already back, slapped again from the other side.
Two three times ’til you know you’ve been hit.

I like the instant you cling to the claw before you flop.
You think in that moment you might get away.
I love your hope.
It makes me growl.

I’ll let you get a little in before I pounce.
Oblong, imbalanced. Bet your feet slide out,
smart guy, language-man, who’s serious now?
Brain, meet mister tooth.


John FitzGerald is a poet, writer, editor and attorney for the disabled in Los Angeles.

A dual citizen of the United States and Ireland, he attended the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, where he was editor of the Law Review.

His newest collection Favorite Bedtime Stories is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in 2014. The Mind, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2011. His first book, Spring Water, was a Turning Point Books prize selection in 2005.

Telling Time by the Shadows was released in April 2008 by Turning Point Books.

As yet unpublished works include Primate, a novel and screenplay, the non-fiction The People of the Net.

He has contributed to the anthologies Poetry: Reading it, Writing it, Publishing it (Salmon Poetry), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (Salmon Poetry), and From the Four-Chambered Heart: In Tribute to Anais Nin (Sybaritic Press) as well as to many literary magazines, notably The Warwick Review, Barnwood Mag, Askew Poetry Journal, Spillway, and Lit Bridge.


to top

MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014