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Monkey Mountain

I knew her

By the delicate shade of each fur bristle,

Her agile flight,

My loose-limbed mother

Of the void between leaves.

In Son Tra mountain sunset,

Langur we gather,

Subtle Buddha’s 

of a fragile forest,

Scrolling through trajectories

Of tail flowing calligraphy,

Along horizon lines fluent

With Langur verses.

My plummeting mother,

children in wild cursives,


as succulent as leaf sprouts,

through the bowl of the boughs

golden-faced monks we screech

and scatter waste in offerings

to feed the forest floor.

lost wastes of the forest floor

where a predator of stealth, 

explodes entertainment in bullets

that ricochet among the boughs...

“Yeah dunk that Douc for fun!

Down that goddamn gook monkey!”

Evolution in scarlet pants,

bold beauty in mottled tones,

becomes for you, just alien targets:

“Explain that skin,

                            you’re rooted in”.

A toxic rain falls, an orange heat 

that rots our infants to a meat

a paste that it hurts to hold.

And after war has dissolved

tree and leaf to what can be sold,

along choice trails of destruction

hotels assemble their demons,   


super-marketed for your shelves,

Silenced. Neutralised.


Red shanked Doucs are members of the Langur family. They used to be widespread throughout south-East Asia but are now only found in remote areas of Vietnam. One of these is Son Tra, a National Park. In the Vietnam War, American soldiers called it Monkey Mountain. During this war vast areas of Douc habitat was destroyed by Agent Orange - the toxic bio-chemical weapon used by the US. Now the Langur population is threatened by tourism and deforestation.

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