From Whence, Fragment?

What the Leopard Was Seeking At That Altitude

“Kilimanjaro is a snow covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngàje Ngài,’ the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”

epigraph to Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, 1936

The leopard here. So listen, fools.

Before my weary carcass cools.

I’ve climbed to nineteen-thousand feet

To turn to freeze-dried mammal meat.

Up here on mighty Kilimanjaro,

My bones will just be chillin’ tomorrow.

As I expire upon this peak,

I’ll tell you gladly what I seek.

When nightfall struck the western summit,

My body temp did greatly plummet;

And once I reached this altitude,

Ferocious bites of frost ensued.

Yet still I seek one thing, in turn,

For which I bet you also burn:

To simply, deftly, sans delay,

ESCAPE FROM ERNEST HEMINGWAY.

See, Hem for years has hunted me.

No jungle’s safe. No town. No tree.

From north to south he’s had me chased.

It’s such a dreadful Hemingwaste.

He’s hounded me from east to west;

Pursued me like a man possessed.

A harsh revenge would he exact.

Won’t rest till I’ve been Hemingwhacked.

What happened was, in ’22,

When Hem to me was known as Who?,

A stunt I pulled in Paris, France

Converted Hem to crazypants.

I’d long indulged, at Lion Station,

In bouts of baggage confiscation,

But here admit I bit it badly

And stole that suitcase off of Hadley.

It gave me then the leopard vapors

To find the case held merely papers.

A stack of stories short and lengthy

Of fragile femmes and sportsmen strengthy.

Such empty prose! Such aimless plots!

Like me, they only worked in spots!

I skimmed them idly, shrugged and laughed,

Then ate up every page and draft.

Well, Hem found out his manuscripts

Had passed this leopard’s whiskered lipts;

And I, from there, to meet my fate

Did not have long to Hemingwait.

For Hem, with fury incandescent,

From Yucca Flat to Fertile Crescent,

From mountain-top to ocean floor,

Let slip the dogs of Hemingwar!

And Heaven’s rafters belled and sang

As out burst Hem with sharpened fang!

My feasting on his written work

Had made me full, and him berserk!

He tracked me down without relent,

His thoughts on darkest vengeance bent,

And all of Hell’s foundations shook

As Hem closed in to shut my book!

And HOLY JESUS JUMPING CHRIST.

He swore he’d leave me chopped and diced!

He’d snap my femurs, flense my coat,

And tear my soul right out my throat!

My skull he’d split, my brains he’d dash!

My guts he’d pound to leopard hash!

He’d make my slaughter slow and gory,

Then stash my corpse inside a story!

Your leopard fled in great alarm

Lest Hem inflict this grievous harm.

Since then he’s tailed me day and night,

His hatred burning Hemingwhite!

And though I’ve dodged, in countless lands,

Those grappa-pickled grabby hands,

At last these handy mountain snows

Are ending all my Hemingwoes!

So leopard out. And just in time.

For surely Hem’s begun his climb.

Let no one call my death explainless.

The marvellous thing is that it’s painless.