Suppose you have an elephant
with 56 millimeter trunk
and say he’s
tearing up the jungle
(say you think he’s drunk
or crazy)
How’re you going to bring that elephant down?
lion can’t
bear could but don’t want to
and the panther’s too small for that job.

Then suppose you have an elephant
with million millimeter trunk
and his jungle is the whole green world?
(and drunk
and crazy)
you see the problem.
one more word
about elephants
No matter how hard they try
elephants cannot pick their noses
any more than bankers can hand out money
or police put away their pistols
or politicians get right with God.

a sty
in the elephant’s eye
aint nothing
but a fly in his nose
is a serious if not fatal condition

when the fly
gets into that nostril
it begins to swell
and stay closed
he can’t smell can’t drink can’t think
can’t get one up
on anybody
he begins to regret
all that flabby ammunition
hanging on him
he begins to wish
he’d been a little more bare-faced
like an ape or a fish
all those passageways
he needs to feed himself
tied up

by a fly
a million flies
outweigh a trunk
a tank
a bank
a million flies
outthink a pile of IBM

we must be wise
to the elephant’s lies
you may think we should try
to sober him up
but the trouble isn’t that he’s drunk
the trouble is
that he’s an elephant
with multi-millimeter trunk
who believes the world is his jungle
and until he dies
he grows and grows

we must be flies
in the elephant’s nose
ready to carry on
in every town
you know there are butterflies
there are horse flies and house flies
blue flies, shoo flies and it’s-not-
true flies
then there are may flies and wood flies
but I’m talking about
can flies & do flies
bottle flies, rock flies and sock flies
dragonflies and fireflies
in the elephant’s nose
ready to carry on
til he goes down

Analysis, meaning and summary of Judy Grahn's poem Elephant Poem

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