“Travelogue in a Shooting Gallery,”by Kenneth Fearing, from Afternoon of a Pawnbroker (1943)


Travelogue in a Shooting Gallery

There is a jungle, there is a jungle, there is a vast, vivid, wild,
wild, marvelous, marvelous, marvelous jungle,
Open to the public during business hours,
A jungle not very far from an Automat, between a hat store
there, and a radio shop.

There, there, whether it raihs, or it snows, or it shines,
Under the hot, blazing, cloudless, tropical neon skies that
the management always arranges there,
Rows and rows of marching ducks, dozens and dozens and
dozens of ducks, move steadily along on smoothly-oiled ballbearing feet,

Ducks as big as telephone books, slow and fearless and out
of this world,
While lines and lines of lions, lions, rabbits, panthers, elephants, crocodiles, zebras, apes,
Filled with jungle hunger and jungle rage and jungle love,
Stalk their prey on endless, endless rotary belts through
never-ending forests, and burning deserts, and limitless veldts,

To the sound of tom-toms, equipped with silencers, beaten
by thousands of savages hidden there.
And there it is that all the big game hunters go, there the
traders and the explorers come,

Leanfaced men with windswept eyes who arrive by streetcar,
auto or subway, taxi or on foot, streetcar or bus,
And they nod, and they say, and they need no more:
‘There . . . there . . .
There they come, and there they go.”

And weighing machines, in this civilized jungle, will read
your soul like an open book, for a penny at a time,
and tell you all,
There, there, where smoking is permitted,
In a jungle that lies, like a rainbow’s end, at the very end of every trail,
There, in the only jungle in the whole wide world where
ducks are waiting for streetcars,
And hunters can be psychoanalyzed, while they smoke and wait for ducks.

from Afternoon Of A Pawnbroker And Other Poems, by Kenneth Fearing
New York City: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944

Available on the Internet Archive: Link

This is one in a series of neglected poems taken from the Internet Archive.

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