Headed toward home I wonder who monitors all the monitors
That glow in the houses on either side. And where
Are they? In the savannahs and in remote jungles
Where the only electricity comes from seasonal storms
Seen in photographs from a distance monitors
Are lizards that slink around rocks and over
Trees after small mammals and other easy meals.
They range in size from smaller than your hand
To monsters with five-fingered feet
With claws that could remove your entire arm,
And they’ve held dominion over their territory
From time before the first simians scraped sparks
Out of stones. A trespassing baron sat down to rest
As he was crossing an island he’d crossed an ocean to visit.
All his minions found was his indigestible glasses and shoes.
Some of these big lizards, although common
Names are hard to tie down, are called basilisks.
In legends basilisks were the offspring of a rooster’s egg
No matter which way it fell off the barn roof
And had the power to turn anyone who caught their eye,
No matter how casually, into stone.
It’s just a legend. Some legends are encrusted or crystallized facts,
But not this one. This legend’s safely in its cage
Around the next corner licking its lips.
I like this poem because I think it’s a treasured memory that you have based on this image of you. It must have seemed like a dinosaur to you. We have green iguanas here, all over the island. They are not as big as this lizard but almost. They also seem attracted to me. I keep on finding them in the city where they’re at danger of being run over. They were somebody’s pet once, and became too big, so they escaped. I trap them and release them in a mangrove where they can roam freely.
I’m glad you liked it. This is a revised version of a poem I used to read at coffee shops. It was inspired by seeing TVs glowing in peoples’ houses and watching a documentary about Komodo dragons one night.
It’s also a very subtle tribute to Bob Elliott since one of the most famous Bob and Ray routines is “The Komodo Dragon”.