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See No Evil by Billy Collins

Post Series: Poetry Thursday

See No Evil

by Billy Collins


No one expected all three of them

to sit there on their tree stumps forever,

their sense covered with their sinuous paws

so as to shut out the vile, nefarious world.


As it happened,

it was the one on the left

who was the first to desert his post,

uncupping his ears,

then loping off into the orbit of rumors and lies,

but also into the realm of symphonies,

the sound of water tumbling over rocks

and wind stirring the leafy domes of trees.


Then the monkey on the right lowered his hands

from his wide mouth and slipped away

in search of someone to talk to,

some news he could spread,

maybe something to curse or shout about.


And that left the monkey in the middle

alone with his silent vigil.

shielding his eyes from depravity’s spectacle,

blind to the man whipping his horse,

the woman shaking her baby in the air,

but also unable to see

the russet sun on a rough shelf of rock

and apples in the grass at the base of a tree.


Sometimes, he wonders about the other two,

listens for the faint sounds of their breathing

up there on the mantel

alongside the clock and candlesticks.


And some nights in the quiet house

he wishes he could break the silence with a question,


but he knows the one on his right

would not be able to hear,

and the one to his left,

according to their sacred oath-

the one they all took with one paw raised-

is forbidden forever to speak, even in reply.

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