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Ai Analysis

Author: poem of Denise Duhamel Type: poem Views: 9

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There is a chimp named Ai who can count to five.

There's a poet named Ai whose selected poems Vice

just won the National Book Award.

The name "Ai" is pronounced "I"

so that whenever I talk about the poet Ai

such as I'm teaching Ai's poems again this semester

it sounds like I'm teaching my own poems

or when I say I love Ai's work

it sounds as if I'm saying I love my own poems

but have poor grammar. I haven't had a chance

to talk much yet about this Japanese chimp

who can arrange pictures in order of the number of objects

contained in those pictures. I just read about her

for the first time yesterday, the fifth of January in the year 00

which I imagine would be a hard concept

for Ai the chimp. It feels weird writing 00 -

I had to do it when I wrote my first check

of the year 2000. I think we should proclaim

this year as the year of Olive Oyl, who

is also an 00, but with letters instead of numbers.

I was in the Koko fan club for a while since I love gorillas,

but then I moved around so much, the newsletters

and requests for money stopped coming.

I wonder if Ai the poet is happy she shares a name

with a gifted chimp. To me, the most amazing thing

about Ai the poet is she hardly ever

writes an "I" poem about herself.

She crawls into the hearts

of the cruelest men and writes about what

it is like to be them, while I mostly

curl in the bellies of the shattered women.

There's no evidence that one approach

is better than the other. There's no evidence

that chimpanzees use numbers in the wild.

One expert said that perhaps chimpanzees

count the number of predators they see.

I read on the web that John Wayne actually said,

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking

this great country away from them. There were great numbers

of people who needed new land,

and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."

So maybe chimps do count their enemies, to see if they

have the advantage, but I'm a romantic -

I like to think that Ai the poet and I mostly count our stanzas.

I like to think Ai the chimp mostly counts her bananas.

Anonymous submission.


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