We went on down to the Audubon Zoo
and they all axed for you,
they all axed for you,
well, they even inquired about you.
The monkeys axed, the tigers axed,
and the elephant axed me too.*
We walked on out searching for the chimpanzee
and there she was staring straight at us
eyes moist with questions marked on slate walls
plat du jour beefsteak chops with potato mush
and a choice of desserts. I think I’d have to go for
the apple surprise. Wooo.
Making choices for elephants is not work,
a nasty moment of doubt may wrench your gut,
like gauging the locomotive’s speed
as it rumbles toward the crossing
bells clanging horns blaring
your partner yelling
go for it, paddy, go for it you whore
yeah choices can be nasty like that
but you have to deal, connive,
do what has to be done.
It’s the figuring out what the what is
that’ll get you every time.
They are waiting for you, listening
for your footsteps pachydermal
on the greasy street, slicksterland
the old warehouses blazing light
art galleries and boutiques
trendy eateries and bookstores
where a man in purple rags waves
good-bye to all that has gone.
Tough skin, gotta have it, baby.
Thick as a jail door.
When they hear your footsteps,
they drop back in the shadows
gawking as you stumble home.
They do not ax you nothin.
*This is my best recollection of the opening lines of the Meters’ “They All Axed for You,” one of the few songs song I can pick on the guitar (on a good day). The others include: “Iko-Iko,” “Carrickfergus,” “The Times They Are A-Changing,” and “The Lass of Aughrim.”