Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos With the Dalai Lama

Poem

I was playing Hungry Hungry Hippos
With the Dalai Lama
And the bastard was cheating.
He kept distracting me,
Pointing to things in the room,
Then manually manipulating the banks
With his hand
Scooping them in to the plastic hippo mouth,
The absolute wanker.

It’s all about gobbling up the little balls,
The cheap plastic rattling
With frenetic energy.
The hunger comes from desire,
The Dalai Lama said,
And desire without love is meaningless,
And you are going down,
Cos there ain’t no one better at
Hungry Hungry Hippos
Than me.

He had quick reflexes for an old man.
I’d never seen someone so
Absolutely devoted not only to victory
But the absolute annihilation of his opponent.
And when he got annoyed,
It really showed.
Oh, you make such a drama,
Dalai Lama.

He turned on the table lamp.
He turned on the standard lamp.
He turned on the main ceiling light,
The recessed lighting, the bedside lamps,
The fluorescent bulb in the kitchen,
He turned them all on.
It’s all about enlightenment, he said.

He told me his belief
That if you did something bad in life,
You get chicken curry.
For every bad deed,
Chicken curry.
He called it, korma.

Bang bang bang bang bang
He’s not aiming at the balls at all,
There’s no strategy,
He’s just going for it,
Yet it seems to be working.
He even has the nonchalant self belief
To look up at me as he’s
Banging away, and says,
Suck on that!

And oh for goodness sake,
Now he’s doing it one handed,
Showboating to an imaginary audience,
Bang bang bang bang bang,
The little plastic balls
Drawn to the gaping mouth of his
Cartoon hippo
With an almost supernatural force.
Jesus Christ!, be yelled,
I mean, Buddha.

His hand is steady
His eyes are keen
He’s the meanest mink
You’ve ever seen

He takes no crap
Don’t you forget
He’s the sickest dude
This side of Tibet

He ain’t no god
Surrounded by fools
His Hungry Hungry hippo
Is full of plastic balls.

Yo wassup homeboy,
As a young person might say.

And now we’re in the closing stages,
One ball left, he’s already won,
But he wants it,
Clicks his fingers and in rush
Four Tibetan monks who
Lift up the table at my end,
Tilt the game,
The lone plastic ball rolls,
Gom!
Straight into the gaping mouth of his
Hungry Hungry hungry Hungry
Hungry Hungry Hippo.

The game is over.
He places his palms together in prayer,
Then says,
Best of three?

Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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