The Human Zoo | Cake Cut, Sweden, 2012 | The Human Zoo


poems by Rachel Eliza Griffiths


The Human Zoo

The snout of solitude finds me again in a room
filled with glass, made of unlikely habit.
Habitat. Moon & sea. Poets walk inside. Interiors
bowed by hunger. The shyness of lions
meets the windless squall
of birds. The décor—
um of a wilderness. Shit
on the floor & the walls. Orphaned
iambi. Look through this glass & I don’t know
which tongue is mine. Animal
or am I the work of a tool
scraping the floor? Half bags
of feed torn at the mouth.
The flies can’t get into the room
but they should. There is death here.
At the gate of the gods, unclassified insects.
Everyone is drinking at the source.
Crushed ice in the glacier.
No, I’m the glass. The clear vessel
light twists to flames.


Cake Cut | Sweden, 2012

The woman cleaned with snow remembers nothing of the sea. Let memory eat its landfill. Each red lip underlights the belly & its cup of sponge & chains. As though the body could ever be devoured or escaped. Which is to say delight persists. Memory, I am your cannibal. Let jaw & thigh of frosting feast. Let lightning inscribe this appetite of imagery. Let blond teeth shatter no irony. O creatures, do not eat your tethers. I don’t remember what was served or who was serving. I did both. Art as history; the history of Art. Pull up the jet lid of that breast. Perform incision. As though persimmons had opened at dusk & given nightfall fire. I’m looking at a picture. Whose smile bears each slice, oiled with bliss? If & never innocent, the body pulls open like an angel. Confection grazed with conviction. The flap like a moon in agony. They said, Culture. Dissolved by the milk-bruise I made & the ocean curdled with ships. Blink & what you think you are tasting you are.


The Human Zoo

During the tour the woman used too many adjectives. She moved her hands through the air. The children ate candy, half-listening. She was not a woman their mothers would have liked. Why had they been left alone with this woman? She who walked them past the monkey house & the melancholy den of lions who blinked in warped light. She who pointed out the penguins & took the children to the petting zoo where she laughed to herself—a dove, clipped & silent, upon her palm. She cried when one of the goats nipped her. Making no noise, she brushed the strand of pain away, which clung to her lips. The children petted her, told their mothers later that the woman was nice after all.



Rachel Eliza Griffiths