Koko and Robin

When Koko met Robin Williams,
she was in mourning for Michael,
a fellow gorilla and her life-long friend.
They’d grown up together
like brother and sister.
The smile she gave Robin
was her first in six months.

Koko recognized Robin
from the television shows
where he’d impersonated Mork,
an alien befriended by Mindy,
who helped him adjust to life on earth,
while, off camera, he’d chased her,
copping a feel. Mindy recalled, “I was
flashed, humped, bumped, grabbed.
He’d look at me real playful,
like a puppy, with those sparkly eyes,
and then he’d do it and run off.
And he could get away with it.”

In sign language
Koko asked Robin to tickle her,
and she tickled him back, laughing.
Baring her teeth in joy,
she played with him,
putting on his glasses,
picking his pockets.

She could have crushed him,
but she cradled him
in her strong hairy arms,
rocked him gently to and fro.
He felt himself relax,
inhaling her smell, matching
his breathing to hers.

She stroked his arms,
hairy for a human,
and stared into his eyes,
and he stared into hers.

Later, in interviews on talk shows
and in stand-up routines, Koko
was Robin’s comic fodder.
He mocked her lasciviousness,
as he construed it.

Yet, there was more:
“We shared something extraordinary,
awesome and unforgettable.”
Robin was Koko’s playmate, friend
for a day, a creature she had held
in her arms and rocked
like one of her kittens.

Consumed by illness and sadness,
years later, Robin took his own life.
Learning of his death,
Koko wept.


Anne Whitehouse is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Meteor Shower (Dos Madres Press, 2016). She has also written a novel, Fall Love, which is now available in Spanish translation as Amigos y amantes by Compton Press. Recent honors include 2017 Adelaide Literary Award in Fiction, 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Prize, 2016 Common Good Books’ Poems of Gratitude Contest, 2016 RhymeOn! Poetry Prize, 2016 F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Poetry Prize. She lives in New York City. http://www.annewhitehouse.com

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, writer, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in the USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum,The Albright-Knox Art Gallery & The Allen Memorial Art Museum. Since 2006 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 230 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Creative Artists Public Service Grant (CAPS), two Pollock-Krasner grants, two Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grants and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. in 2017 & 2018 he received the Brooklyn Arts Council SU-CASA artist-in-residence grant.