Baboon Babble

José Emilio Pacheco

I, the baboon, learned was that

in every direction I took this world is

    bars and more bars.

Everything I see is striped

like the bars of a tiger’s pelt.

They say somewhere there are free monkeys.

    I have seen nothing

but an infinity of kindred prisoners

    always behind bars.

    At night I dream

of a jungle bristling with bars.

I live only to be stared at.

The throng they call people comes here.

They like to tease me. They enjoy it

when my rage rattles the bars.

    My freedom is my cage.

    Only dead

will I be carried outside these brutal bars.




Pacheco, José Emilio. "Baboon Babble." An Ark for the Next Millennium: Poems. Trans. Margaret Sayers Peden. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993. p. 69.

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