“A Man in a Monkey Suit Believes in Himself” has two settings, at least two settings, as many poems do, as stories do, and in fact as people do.
It’s set in the vastness of space, of course, and it’s set on some monkey bars. But it’s also set in two different parks, two different playgrounds, and in the dreams where the night-grass and the darkened swing-sets in those parks and playgrounds mix and mingle. They swap details like lined-up chromosomes. They fail to tell themselves apart. They insist that all the crushes you’ve ever had in your life are one and the same. (They aren’t?)
It’s more important to say, however, that the two settings that people always occupy are the possible and the impossible, the real (because everything possible is real) and the projected, whatever is flimsy, flaking apart before one quite can imagine it to be.
Writing this poem, I talked myself from the purely imagined to the fully spelled-out and back again. After writing the scene, trying to figure out how to end it or what it might signify, I realized I’d been so caught up in the mechanics of this mid-air copulation that a basic question had gone unanswered, had never in fact been asked. And that’s how it is. Most of the time, we’re swinging along with our pictures of what other people want, the people closest to us, and we don’t know.
Do you like it, do you like it at all? Imagine you’ve asked yourself this question a hundred times before.
Then ask yourself again. While you’re hanging there.