Poems of the Week

The New Neanderthal

by Nora Jay

“Cave find shows Neanderthals collected seafood, scientists say…
‘Forget about this Hollywood-like image of the Neanderthal as this half-naked primitive
that roamed the steppe tundra of northern Europe hunting for mammoths and other megafauna with poor and inefficient weapons,’ said [an expert]. ‘The real Neanderthal is the Neanderthal who is in southern Europe.’”

—The Guardian

With so much else to sacrifice, one thing I never shall:
This Hollywood-like image of the crude Neanderthal,
Who roamed the steppe half-covered (by the Board of Censors’ rules),
Pursuing megafauna with his inefficient tools.
So now we’re asked to think of him sashaying down the shore,
Designing dainty meals of moules and Lobster Thermidor?
This rugged, macho primitive, adored by MGM,
Is now a clever sissy, downing crayfish à la crème?
That thought I’m trying to forget, so don’t remind me, pal.
Meanwhile, the real Neanderthal’s a real Neanderthal.