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.


Vacillating Benny and Monsanto Max


Donal Mahoney

Vacillating Benny, an ancient chemist
now retired from Monsanto, must decide
if a poem his friend Ron has sent to him
is good enough for his hobby journal.
Benny finally decides to let the poem

marinate for another month
without sending Ron a reply.
Maybe it will sound better later on.
A month later, Benny asks his dog,
Monsanto Max, for an editorial opinion.

Bolstered by his dog's advice,
Benny sends Ron a note:
"I'm considering your poem
and will get back to you later
with a quasi-final decision."

How might you respond if you were Ron,
a retired professor who wrote his poem
while teaching English in Vietnam.
Ron decided to send old Benny
three cases of Dom Perignon,

each bottle filled with Agent Orange.
Ron hopes Benny will have
the time he needs to decide if
his poem's worthy of publication.
Ron remembers decades ago

when they were young and in their prime
and his old friend Benny was
First Vice President at Monsanto.
Ever decisive, Benny quickly approved
new applications for Agent Orange.

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction appear in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at


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