Vox Populi

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Michael Simms: Angela fell in love with her monkeys

Angela fell in love with her monkeys

In the lab and then she was ordered 

To euthanize them and there 

Was no choice she thought

Because they’d lived in cages

All their lives and her saying this

Made me think of Winchester 

Our big black Labrador who was 

Calm and sweet and eager

To please the household 

Except when fireworks erupted

Over the city and the noise and 

Excitement drove him nuts and 

He would escape the house 

And run down the street past

The crowds looking up 

At the sky saying ahhhhhh

Every time a flower of light 

Filled the sky and Winchester

Terrified must have thought

The stars were exploding the moon

Was falling and he would run

For miles but somehow always

Found his way to Bernie’s 

Front porch to hide until 

The sky was silent and 

Hearing about Angela’s monkeys

And thinking of Winchester

Barking at the bursting sky 

Reminded me of Moondog

The blind Viking of 6th Avenue

Busking his records when few

Knew he was a brilliant composer 

Self-trained by reading

Scores in braille and living in

Manhattan when he met Charlie

Parker and liked the sense of 

Humor in Charlie’s music and

Donned a horned helmet so he

Wouldn’t be confused with Christ

Having rejected Christianity at

An early age and instead posted

Himself near the 52nd Street strip

Where he christened himself

Moondog in honor of a hound

That used to howl at the moon 

More than any dog 

He knew and later he moved

To a house in Candor NY where

He maintained an altar to Thor

Who showed him the rhythms of

City traffic and ocean waves 

Babies crying and foghorns he

Loved it all and remembered 

His father taking him to 

An Arapaho Sun Dance where 

He sat on the lap of Chief

Yellow Calf and played 

A tom-tom made from 

Buffalo skin and later he invented 

Instruments such as

The oo and ooo-y-tsu and the 

Hus and the trimba and he lived

The last 25 years of his singular life

With the Sommer family in

Westphalia not far from where 

My wife grew up and he

Composed hundreds of compositions

In snaketime and slithery rhythm

And claimed I’m not gonna die

In 4/4 and he probably didn’t

Because he sure didn’t live

In 4/4 and I still hear his music

When I walk through the city and

Even Philip Glass said he learned 

More from Moondog than

From Juilliard and I’m thinking

Of all this and Angela’s poor monkeys

Living their lives in cages until

They’re not needed any more and 

Winchester who ran for his life

From the sky unnaturally exploding

And I wonder what cage I live in

And under what sky. 

Poem copyright Michael Simms. From American Ash by Michael Simms (Ragged Sky 2020)

Email subscribers may listen to a selection of Moondog’s music by clicking on the title of this post.

11 comments on “Michael Simms: Angela fell in love with her monkeys

  1. Joe Cottonwood
    May 29, 2021

    Hi Michael

    Marvelous poem.

    Made me pause, think, ponder my cage.

    Just had to say that.

    peace, joe

    Joe Cottonwood joecottonwood.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rose Mary Boehm
    May 29, 2021

    I love, LOVE (and one bigger one for emphasis) this poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      May 29, 2021

      Thank you, Rose Mary! Your comments add so much to the dialogue here! And thank you especially for praising my poems.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Barbara Huntington
    May 29, 2021

    What cage I live in…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. abby zimet
    May 29, 2021

    wow. wonderful. esp since we had our first fireworks last night and my son’s wacky dog donnie darko, an alient who’s here in vacationland a while, went berserk, as dogs do. thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      May 29, 2021

      Thanks, Abby. Yes, Winchester was a great dog but a little neurotic: he hated sewer openings, fireworks and hot weather. But he loved running down the horse trails after my wife on her horse Kabuki. Our current dog Josie is sane but willful.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. kim4true
    May 29, 2021

    Moondog and Winston and Angela with her monkeys–braided into inevitability and constraint and refusal to acknowledge barriers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Carrie Barton
    May 29, 2021

    Love this! Thank you for sharing! Carrie

    Liked by 1 person

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