Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with the Dalai Lama

I was playing Hungry Hungry Hippos
With the Dalai Lama.
He kept distracting me,
Manually manipulating the plastic balls
Out into the gaping hippo mouth.
His gaping hippo.
The red one.
What a wanker.

The cheap plastic rattles
With frenetic energy.
He’s winning.
He’s obliterating me.
The hunger to win
Comes from within,
He said.
And desire without hunger is meaningless.
And you are going down, my son,
You are going down!

His hands a blur,
His lightning reflexes,
Nimble and quick and precise,
And me?
I shouldn’t have had that
Sausage and egg mcmuffin.
I shouldn’t have had that
Chicken mayonnaise bap.
I shouldn’t have had that
Scone.

Before the game had even started
He’s turned on the table lamp,
The ceiling light, the bedside lamp,
The fluorescent bulb in the kitchen,
He’s turned them all on.
It’s all about enlightenment, he’d said.

He’s winning, the bastard is winning!
Yet still he gets a rockhopper penguin
To stand there and fart
Trying to put me off.
Farting penguin farting penguin
Pungent pungent
Farting penguin,
Geez, that’s rife!

Perhaps he’s not the Dalai Lama at all.
Perhaps he’s called Steve.
But no one called Steve
Can play the way he plays.
He’s a Hungry Hungry Hippo virtuoso,
He lights up the room,
The plastic balls zoom,
Tick, tick, tick, tick, boom!

Oh for goodness sake
Now he’s playing one handed,
Showboating,
The little plastic balls
Drawn to the gaping mouth of his
Cartoon hippo
With an eerie inexorability.
Jesus Christ!
He yells.
I mean, Buddha.

He’s not aiming at all,
There’s no strategy,
He’s just going for it,
But it’s working,
Even the farting penguin is smirking,
And me?

I can feel the hope draining,
My fingers are straining,
There’s four balls remaining,
Three now, the tosser
Has got another one,
This long show ceased to be fun,
I can feel every part of me
Starting to come undone
And now of all those balls,
There’s only one.

But he wants it,
The Dalai Lama wants it,
He clicks his fingers and in lumber
Four giant pandas,
Who lift up the table at his end,
And tilt
The last ball,
Gom!
Straight into the gaping mouth of his
Hungry Hungry Hungry Hungry
Hungry Hungry Hippo.

Next week
Next week
Next week
I’m playing Connect Four
With the Pope.

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Author: Robert Garnham

Performance and spoken word artist.

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