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
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 rend my flesh and flense my coat
And rip 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 the Kilimanjaro 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