David Yezzi



Remembering his years among the apes,
the aging scientist still heard the hue
and cry of primates in the junglescapes
of Kenya’s highland hills, for it was through
recording them that he came to construe
a larger principle behind their calls,
which humankind is also subject to:
The loudest monkeys have the smallest balls.

Like us, the simian takes many shapes,
from alpha bull to Congo River blue,
tame laboratory chimps vying for grapes,
or the temple monkeys heard in Katmandu.
Some patiently pick nits; some climb the walls.
Regardless of their type or whom they screw,
the loudest monkeys have the smallest balls.

The same obtains with us. No one escapes
this natural law. In all that we pursue,
from power chords, to wealth that lets us traipse
the slopes of Everest with a Sherpa crew,
to Twitter screeds and Mail Chimp caterwauls,
anatomy is destiny. It’s true:
the loudest monkeys have the smallest balls.

What leads to this unlikely switcheroo?
What perverse demiurge is it that scrawls
this piquant maxim for the modest few:
The loudest monkeys have the smallest balls?

David Yezzi’s latest books of poetry are Birds of the Air and Black Sea (both in the Carnegie Mellon Poets Series). He teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins.