—RIP Koko, The Gorilla Who Used
Sign Language, 1972–20 June 2018*
Sheep in wolf’s clothing, Melon Man’s
what the Town and Country grocery with
biggest best batches of sweetest honeydews
at bargain basement prices called me.
Green magumbos just ripe enough
so my orangutan thumbs could press
into them like brawny pitting edema
in American College of Cardiology
Class IV endstage congestive heart
failure patients’ legs and even thighs.
At first if others in line or checkers
asked, I told them we had a large family
or they were for work picnics or even
pretended to donate to the local orphanage.
When those excuses weren’t fruitful, the untruth
stretched to let the still curious imagine
that I supplied Stanford’s Primate Center
where my Stanford Med School roommate
was doing cardiac transplantation research
including cutting edge pioneering cardiac-assist
implantations which consisted of placing
prototype left-ventricular pumps—devices
were so big that recipient animals were gorillas
and cows—can you imagine the logistics housing,
anesthetizing, positioning for bovine surgery?
Once for my birthday which is in September
just about the time cantaloupe season’s done
and before Crenshaw’s take center stage,
the kids carved out half a watermelon
which the wife plopped on my head and took
a Polaroid of before I knew what was happening.
During my heyday around the autumn equinox
I’d run to pee all night. Got so bad that the duties
of my job were affected and eventually I got fired
but convinced the monkey minders to hire
out their fresh produce procurement to me.
Rounding the bend of seventy-three, this chimp
rarely allows such sugar water indulgences.