local_library Run Through the Jungle

by Ben Smith

Published in Issue No. 177 ~ February, 2012

My father bought hundred dollar gym shoes

sometimes two or three pairs at once.

When dirty, he threw them in the washer then baked them in the dryer

they bubbled, hardened, and cracked.

He might throw one of his new shoes to the teething Labrador

or wedge his feet into them and go for a run through the woods.


At dusk, just after a summer rain, you might see it:

six feet tall

covered with hair from sloping cranium

to flashing white Adidas

brown hair hovering over the skin

like a bestial aura.

Glimpsing it from behind, you might think it

a silverback gorilla.

From the side or front, you saw a naked man

running through humid woods

verdant bright and dripping moist.

Powerful forearms and biceps pumping

genitals flopping

sneakers flashing—

streaking through the flora amidst the scattering fauna

just outside the watershed of a conservative community.

He came out of that wilderness refreshed

then donned his uniform and returned to work.


He was specialized, his own boss

Owned his own business

fathered four offspring

all of which survived childhood.


Sitting on a boulder near the bank of the main tributary

I lace an old pair of his shoes I have managed to work into.

The hirsute curse

call it ursine, call it Cro-Magnon,

crawls down my back, too.

Running naked through the woods

I look like a white American male gorilla

age 25-40, though not yet a silverback.

A wild beast lurking outside the confines of hackneyed civilization

successfully running through the jungle.

account_box More About

Ben E. Smith was raised in Utah. He earned his BA in Literature at Utah State University. In addition to essay and article publications, his stories and poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines such as Poetry Super Highway, Outcry, Poetic Voices of America, and Best New Poems. Currently, he lives in Rhode Island and is writing a memoir. He can be reached at frowsymien@gmail.com.