“Animal Kingdoms,” a poem by Associate Professor Brian Stefans
for David and Chelsea
I woke—and found my cats had taken a hike!
David had discovered he was gorgeous,
had attained his SAG card, was going on auditions
for supporting roles on the Cartoon Network,
and Chelsea had bartered her remarkable girth
for spots on fast food commercials,
as one who, like us, disregards the pull of the earth
on our passion: filling voids in the bowels.
Yes, I’m sure there are insects who’ve abandoned me
for cameos on the science channels,
such as the bedbug who found celebrity
as the one true conqueror of bedtime flannels,
or the impecunious spider who had regaled my corners
with devilish displays of artistry
who is now the go-to arachnid for commentary
about WatchESPN’s athletic fly hoarders.
And the lizards who once crept through the screen door
are now actors’ doubles for the new Godzilla,
and the water bug I, insultingly, thought a roach
commands six figures for its visage,
and the mold that grew on my English muffins
is speed-reading through HBO options,
as who, among the mammals, doesn’t care about toxins,
those Iago-antagonists of digestion?
But I’d like to say: I still have my bacteria,
loyal manservants against the siege of the world
upon my flesh, within labyrinthine viscera
—what is indissolubly me, though in the end I’m sure
the bacteria will have signed their sexy contracts,
billions of them, as the camera’s eye
finds drama in these most minimal of actants,
and spurns this precious lump—the human alibi.