The Fear of Monkeys - The Best E-Zine on the Web for Politically Conscious WritingThe Brown Capuchin Monkey - Issue Thirteen
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The Tantalus Monkey, photo from Christian ArtusoThe Brown Capuchin Monkey is a New World primate who lives in the northern Amazon rainforest of the Guyanas, Venezuela and Brazil. They are also found in eastern Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, including the upper Andean Magdalena valley in Colombia, and a population was established in the Republic of "Trinidad and Tobago". The capuchin has a head-body length of 32 to 57 centimetres and a weight of 1.9 to 4.8 kilograms and mostly eats fruit, insects, larvae, eggs, young birds, frogs, lizards, and even bats. They are also known to chase cats. They can be found in many different kinds of environment, including moist tropical and subtropical forest, dry forest, and disturbed or secondary forest. They are social, and form groups of 8 to 15 individuals that are led by an alpha male. Important natural enemies of the capuchin are large birds of prey who they are so afraid of that they even become alarmed when a harmless bird flies over. The capuchin rubs urine on its hands and feet in order to attract mates and reduce stress. They also use stones and sticks as tools. One population of this species uses stones as a tool to open hard nuts. The monkey lays the nut on a large, flat rock or fallen tree, hammering the nut with a suitable stone until the nut cracks. The anvil rock is often pock-marked with hollows as a result of repeated use. They have also been observed using containers to hold water, using sticks (to dig nuts, to dip for syrup, and to catch ants), using sponges to absorb juice, using stones as hammer and chisel to penetrate a barrier, and using stones as hammer and anvil to crack nuts. Some of these tasks seem relatively simple by cognitive standards, but others, like cracking nuts with hammer and anvil, are only exceeded in complexity by chimpanzees and some humans.


Swisher Sweets


James Valvis

A quiet Sunday morning. He wanted a pack of Swisher Sweets,
cigars the pot smokers empty of tobacco and use as blunts.
I'd seen enough of this in four years at the gas station
and asked for identification. Almost always it was handed over
but this guy didn't want to, or maybe he didn't have it with him,
or maybe he was younger than he looked. I grabbed the pack,
and shrugged. He said put them back on the counter, or else.
I made a quarter over minimum, no benefits. I lived in a trailer,
week to week, hand to mouth, and lately there were rumors
the company was sending spies to catch cashiers selling to minors.
If they snagged you, you were fired on the spot. I told him no.
I pointed at the sign that said Sorry, No ID, No Service.
I smiled, sorry pal, and shrugged again. He picked up the sign
and threw it at me. It bounced off my arms and ricocheted
into the other cashier, a girl I was training.
A store right up the street sold Swisher Sweets also,
but now he was picking up the Sunday paper and hurling it
at my head, newsprint flying everywhere like dirty gulls.
He told me after work he'd kick my ass.
I laughed-- it was ridiculous-- and he threw another paper.
I picked up the phone and pretended to call the police.
I had to fake it because the police never arrived for assault.
Anything less than a head shot wasn't worth their time.
But it did the trick. The guy hustled outside to his car,
screaming he'd be back later, and skidded out in reverse
until he was riding up the road. After work I waited for him,
but he never came. They never do. Easy to be brave when a man
is working, when the counter and his job separate you from him,
when you are attacking civilization rather than running up against
another form of chaos. I walked home to my trailer that night,
wishing he came back, saddened that even our thugs are wimps.

James Valvis is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011). He has published hundreds of poems in places like Anderbo, Arts & Letters, GHLL, New York Quarterly, Poetry East, River Styx, and Verse Daily. His prose is also widely published in places like Los Angeles Review, Pedestal Magazine, Potomac Review, storySouth, and Superstition Review. He lives near Seattle.
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