It’s All Happening at the Zoo By Sean Bates

It’s All Happening at the Zoo

I befriended a peacock
free to roam
through the people parts of the zoo.
Even had to chase one
as it eyed M&Ms
spilling from the gift shop doorway.
Me in my fullbrim outback hat,
badgeless khaki
boyscout shirt and shorts.

I worked
in the Dippin’ Dots space-cold ice cream hut,
in the giraffe safari stuffed animal hut,
outdoor airbrush tattoo parlor hut.

Places people wanted three day animal themed tattoos:
forearm, bicep,
lower back giraffe, calf calf,
deep cleavage paw prints with glitter
I was required to provide.

I ran register tape in the Giddyup Grill.
I slung things breaded into checkered baskets.
The cook with the teardrop tattoo
called through the heat lamp,
Fries down.
Once, he told me might have to run,
back to Cape Verde. Said he’d dressed up
like a cop and robbed a few dealers.
My register ran out of pennies.

Late that summer, men came for him.
Who? I said.

By Sean Bates


Sean Bates is a poet who grew up in various restaurants across Upstate New York. Sean attended Oberlin College for his BA, and University of Massachusetts Amherst for his MFA. His poetry was recently anthologized in ‘What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump’ edited by Martin Espada. He lives in Western MA with his spouse Elizabeth and their cat Smudge.

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