The Laughing Monkeys of Gravity
Dancing Out, Dancing Back

Lou Costello (d.1959)

He wakes, he waves his hand and laughs,
dances out, dances back, laughs at nothing,
at some dream he had of dying, as if dying
were just a soft cream pie in the face,

a slip on a banana peel, a circus pen
full of lions seen from the outside. Nothing's hidden,
not even the whirlwind on a bright day
or the reason why keys slip out through bars,

all friends are elsewhere at the moment,
the world seems more beautiful than ever
in that moment of panic. Then he remembers
his useless tears; he recalls how the face

of the sky went dark and turned away;
he sees the exquisite world moving off,
shutting him out of everything he loves,
leaving him behind, to die in lions' jaws.

Dancing out, dancing back, he repeats
this dream to himself, to no one in particular:
that death (he claims) was a song on a page,
a missing key, an absent friend, a cage.