Animal Is My Inner Animal

Look past the wild red hair, gripped sticks, and teeth gnashing; past the twin shows of chasing skirts and anger

Photo courtesy of George Murray and The Walrus
Photo courtesy of George Murray and The Walrus

Kermit: What’s wrong with the drummer?
He looks a little crazed.
Zoot: Oh, he’s just upset about missing the
Rembrandt exhibit at the National Gallery.
Animal: RENOIR!

You think it too, that you know him.
Have an opinion on his private
mind: aggressive, male, an animal, typical.
Hell, even his own inner voice
says he’s all sex, sleep, food, drums,
and pain. But take a step back,
pause and look closely.
Look past the wild red hair,
gripped sticks, and teeth gnashing;
past the twin shows of chasing
skirts and anger; past the hand of The Man
jammed up his ass right to the jaw.
See him in pieces, minutely,
observe how his body stills before
the music starts, how he lags,
unfocused, stares out at the lights
agog; an attack dog calmly
panting on a loose choke chain.
He was led here, brought to his spot
through a strange world of people
who think he’s nuts, set down-
stage on a spinning stool,
anchored to the kick drum of his art
to wait for the next song to start.
Watch for that second he takes to himself,
the single beat of calm exposed
by contracting googly iris, by determined
grind of a maw that once hung
open as though in stupid joy.
He lives for this, just like you, for what
ticks of the clock are left;
not the ones in which he’ll roll rim shots
on cue or play nice with guests,
but those in which his quivering lips
and bugged eyes reveal real
tension, a feral heave of chest and lung,
anticipation of the moment to come,
in which he can push every bad impulse
out through constricted pupils,
be unchained at last, let go, solo, blast.

George Murray
George Murray is the author of six books of poetry, two books of aphorisms, and one book for children. He lives in St. John's.

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