The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe White-Handed Gibbon - Issue Seventeen
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The White-Handed Gibbon, photo from Christian ArtusoThe White Handed Gibbon varies from black and dark-brown to light-brown, sandy colours. Their hands and feet are white-coloured and a ring of white hair surrounds the black face. They are true brachiators, propelling themselves through the forest by swinging under the branches using their extremely long arms and curved fingers on elongated hands. They subsist principally upon fruit and leaves, with insects and flowers forming the remainder of their diet in the dipterocarp forest, including primary lowland and submontane rainforest, mixed deciduous bamboo forest, and seasonal evergreen forest of Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. Family groups inhabit a firm territory, which they protect by warding off other gibbons with their calls each morning. Each species has a typified call and each breeding pair has unique variations on that theme. Mating occurs in every month of the year, but most conceptions occur during the dry season in March, with a peak in births during the late rainy season, in October. On average, females reproduce for the first time at about 11 years of age, gestation is six months long, and pregnancies are usually of a single young. Young are nursed for approximately two years, and full maturity comes at about eight years. Their life expectancy is about 25 years. The white-handed gibbon is threatened in various ways: they are sometimes hunted for their meat, sometimes a parent is killed to capture young animals for pets or to be imprisoned in zoos, but perhaps the most pervasive is the loss of habitat through forest clearance for the construction of roads, shifting agriculture, ecotourism, domesticated cattle and elephants, forest fires, subsistence logging, illegal logging, new village settlement, and palm oil plantations.


Dear Job

I thank you
from the bottom of my heart
for this honor you have
granted me
of a job
with a cube
and a PC
and a chair
and a telephone
and a bookshelf overhead
and a cabinet of drawers
at each elbow.

And then of course,
there's the paycheck
twice a month,
not what I'm worth mind,
but you know that
and you sign the blessed thing anyway
because it's not so much
an accounting of human value
but an honorarium, an award
to those left standing,
no make that left sitting,
at the end of each
and every work day.

I have the skills sure,
thanks to God,
to my parents,
to my own willingness
to learn
but the opportunity
to show the world
these capabilities
is a gift
from you
and you alone.

If not for your building
at 221 Main Street,
up two flights,
third door on your left,



life would be strictly
ah wilderness,
I'd be typing away
on elm leaves,
answering oak trunks,
filling out snail trails,
faxing bear scat,
signing my name
to the ripples
of my reflection
in lake water.

And what would I get then
twice a month
for my troubles
but maybe a sunburn,
a tick bite,
poison ivy lumps,
scratches on my legs and arms

Try cashing that
at the grocery store.
Try impressing
a bank manager
with blisters on the soles
of your feet

So I thank you once again
and from the bottom of my heart,
well maybe the outskirts of the mind,
knowing, as I do,
that a guy has to live
and I'd have starved long ago
but for the scratch
and the neighborhood grocery store
where my shopping cart's a regular.

You are capitalism.
I am worker.
Please don't lay me off or fire me.
Torture, on a limited basis, is acceptable.

John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in International Poetry Review, Sanskrit and the science fiction anthology, The Kennedy Curse with work upcoming in Clackamas Literary Review, Paterson Review and Nerve Cowboy.


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