‘so far and no safari …’
My friends after school
were Americans. It wasn’t their accents
or their baseball caps.
It was the way they appeared in the credits
grouping for a shot of the cast
with pets I’d never have:
a dog with thoughts, a horse who talked,
a dolphin singing in Florida.
A man in uniform was there to show
the everglades ranger
sweating slightly, through a pine needle deodorant
his final shift in the wilderness
striding through the flyscreen door
fretting on his missing bear.
This was years before
the microchip tracking device.
How much realer than world news
the island of plastic fauna
nuclear testing spared —
a floating li-lo
beyond the missile range.
My childhood had inventive heroes:
a Physics Professor, Gadget Man
penning lab reports on banana leaf parchment,
collector of carnivorous flowers
transcriber of headhunters’ recipes
who married a bamboo exercise bike
to a washing machine, and made
batteries from acidic ants.
We hoped the Captain would find a way
to save his castaways, somehow
float them back to Hawaii.
He often looked depressed, no doubt
a secret drinker — remember that festering brew
of guava juice?
At least he had Gilligan
blue-eyed total dag, physical jerk
a symbol of all the best intentions.
But much more cheerful
than Thurston Howell the Third
a predatory ivy league turkey
dozing off with shortwave radio
a bullish ‘60s market
underwriting this island.
I liked Ginger: Marilyn Monroe in a grass skirt
eating banana ice-cream,
cosmetics was her line but
nothing tested on animals, which she loved,
a prototype Body Shop junkie
Fair Trading with the Third World.
Crisis after crisis would promote the plot.
Once the typhoon messed up the set.
Apocalypse rode in on a Malibu
a Tsunami rider called the ‘Duke’.
Big kid with nine foot stick and tan
who messed with Ginger’s lipstick, stole her mirror,
and left us with
the new and awful taste of jealousy.
The Devil leaving its brochure.
Oh weird bully I confused with school.
I reached the age of vague yearning
and wondered what had made
the ripples in the duckpond lagoon,
why the bird noises and elephant calls
There were other regulars someone
of my own generation
should remind me of.
Over the years they grew tedious.
Would they ever be saved?
After the fourth repeated series
the professor launched a message in a bottle:
WE ARE STRANDED ON ISLAND
STOP CAN ONLY MEET BASIC NEEDS STOP
WILL BE TYPECAST FOREVER!
© Adam Aitken