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Lay for the Day
2nd March

1933: King Kong premiered in New York, in two of the city’s most prestigious venues, the Roxy Theatre and Radio City Music Hall, simultaneously.


Her body’s big
pot-bellied fruit,
swart and furry,
is hammocked in a dip
of the climbing frame.

She holds her hand-
like feet up, clasps
them absently;
or, slack arm over head,
as we might, she sleeps.

Black as their lids
under leather
ridges, those eyes,
that seem not just to look
at but consider

you, are open,
then close again,
most unimpressed.
What depths of time glinted
across a moment!

She turns away
to be the less
disturbed, and you
are turning too when he,
from a straw-stuffed shelf,

rushes and stops –
that is, was not
one moment, then
was there, and all the more

for being so
on his turned-out
toes and folded knuckles,
silver back sloping

to the high-domed
summit of skull.
Those who made Kong
weren’t wrong in their scaling:
less tall than a man,

his presence is
A minute he
waits, then charges forward,
unblinking captive,

to watch the world.
Seamed and shiny
as anthracite
and round the nostrils like
bitumen buckled

in an ornate
“m” (for monarch),
now far from his mist-filled
forest origins

and far from our
he stands to face
us down behind our glass –
Kronos bewildered

by stripling pale
bored by the leaf-
less brick and scentless steel.
You’ll search your monkey’s

soul for bequests
of such quickness
and might in vain
before you touch deft hand
to bulbous brain-case

in salute and
go, hopefully
humbler, to think
him over like the wise
witty ape you are.

John Gibbens
from Characters: You & I

The Lay Reader is the whole poetic calendar