Adam Fordís first book, Not Quite the Man for the Job (Allen & Unwin), is reviewed here by The Age. His poems have appeared in Australian journals including Overland Express, The Age, Verandah and Visible Ink. He is editor of & and Going Down Swinging.

Evil Robot Monkey with Flaming Sword

Evil Robot Monkey with Flaming Sword,
I smell the Brimstone of your Arcane
Engine and stand hypnotised by the sound
of cogs and levers that emanate from
your soot-blackened metallic form.

Is that sword the Sword that the
Adversary carried into battle in his
campaign against Heaven? Where did
you find such an unholy implement
and what evil do you intend with it?

Who will stand against you, Evil
Robot Monkey? Who has the courage
to stare into those pale green eyes
to feel their glow wash over their
face and not be overcome by fear?

What dread purpose do you fulfill?
Oh that I could call down the Warrior-
Angels and pit them against your
Malevolent Program. Yours is an evil
that only the purest of heart and deed

could stand against and hope to survive.
The dire grind of your gears on one
another announces your coming, the
heat from your sword blisters the clouds
themselves and I fear for my very soul.

You Should Have Killed the Monkey First

Itís funny – all those years ago
I was sitting in my pyjamas on a
Saturday morning, watching the
supervillain once again being
carted away by the next-to-useless
police after the good guys had
triumphed, and I remember thinking
how did they do it?
He had had them dead to rights,
all trussed up in his crazy
death-trap machine bristling with
lasers, its titanium skin gleaming
in the dim light of the basement dungeon
but there he was, handcuffed and humiliated
and laughing insanely as he promised
that they hadnít seen the last of him
and added unconvincingly
that heíd get them next time
and I screamed with all of the power
in my eight-year-old lungs, though I
knew that there was no way he
could hear me. I screamed the truth
as I saw it then, my childís mind
understanding what he had overlooked:
"You should have killed the monkey first."

Because of course it was the
monkey that snuck between
the bars on the window and
pressed the plainly-labelled
off switch on the death-trap which
allowed the heroes to free themselves
and surprise him as he sat upstairs
in his hideout gloating prematurely
and planning what his first decree
as Emperor of the Universe would be.
I had seen it time and time again:
the monkey hands the hero
the confiscated utility belt or
the dog loosens the ropes that
bind their arms behind them or
sometimes itís even a kind of bird
that flies in at the last minute and snatches
the paralysis ray from the villainís hand.
Youíd think theyíd have picked up on
the pattern eventually but it seemed to be
a universal blind-spot in would-be
world-conquerors, crime bosses,
alien menaces and evil geniuses alike.
They never saw the mascot as
anything other than comedy relief,
and they paid the price every time.

So now I stand here, blood all down
my arms, the tiny decapitated body
at my feet. Its little cape is crumpled
and pinned underneath its weight and
though Iíve levelled mountains
with alien machinery and held
entire planets hostage, this is the
first time Iíve felt remorse for my actions.
I learned from the mistakes of my predecessors
but now I wonder if there might have been
more to their omissions than ignorance.
I remind myself that the best plan
is one that you stick to no matter what
and kick the little corpse into a corner
before I step forward. Theyíre quiet now,
though a moment ago they were
claiming Iíd never get away with it.
I think the paradigm shift has been
uncomfortable for them. All that remains
is for me to tighten the straps and
charge up the dynamo and then I can
head upstairs. Itíll be hard not to anticipate
the door bursting open and their colourful forms
zooming in and flying me off to the cops,
but somehow I donít think theyíll be
laughing smugly with their hands on their hips
as the credits roll this time – the funny thing is
I donít know if thatís a good thing or not.