by Nathanael Tagg Issue: Spring 2018
In this collection is a photograph
of two—a man beside a chimpanzee—
and wearing nothing, sitting back to back
while tilting up their heads, they literally

and metaphorically are naked, cold,
as literally and metaphorically
they give each other the cold shoulder
and hold their mammal noses in the air.

Behind the lens: photographer James Balog.
Behind his subjects: a white backdrop.
The naked human, leaning back, does not
appear afraid he’ll push the chimp eternally

out of the picture. Is the man asleep?   
The smaller-headed animal does not
appear to be oblivious and seems
to warm his body with a hug and seems

to hold his ground by sitting upright
until they face the canvas, till they paint
a future for their matching DNA,
for hairy, wrinkled types, etc.  

The man will have to use his anima
and imitate a different chimp from Anima,
who cradles a woman’s head and wears
a look that says, “Is she alright? Her eyes

and mouth are closed, her body motionless.
It’s not a pose; it’s never been a pose.”

Nathanael Tagg


Nathanael Tagg is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection Animal Virtue (WordTech Editions, April 2018). He has an MFA from Rutgers, where he was a Truman Capote Literary Trust fellow. His poems and reviews are published or forthcoming in Barrow Street, Confrontation, Colorado Review, Pleiades, Cimarron Review, and many other magazines. He’s an associate professor of English at Cecil College. He lives with his wife in Lancaster, PA. His website is