Matapalo Death Dance (first published on


His head is the teeming jungle that

Boils like schools of bait fish

Beyond the shelf

His speech is the livid chatter of kingbirds

Jarring chatter, flowing constant

Leaving behind body parts

Digested by

Seething hermit tides

Who render all to mulch

He crashes through your thickets with

Finesse of the white-lipped pig

Inviting you into the trackless interior

With a wry smile, a whispered promise

For he is an ape, of course

Nimble and caged

Cunning as the vipers

In his fingers and tongue

For when you are lost he’ll open up

The nectar bats in his throat

Sickly sweet questions that

Unburden every secret

Avail the forgotten promises of your heart

And break them, one by one

Until lights flicker dim and

The sloth pads through his eyes

And just as you loathe each cell in his being

And vow to leave him

He is the macaw’s scarlet flourish

Temporary as falling light