An Ode to Mongo of Shrek 2 

Griffin James


Innocence washed away, scalded 

by men who don’t know 

your name or age. 

Men whose faces are

some of the first faces 

you’ve ever seen. 

You bear scars on your skin 

as birthmarks. Each one 

a tally for a minute of life. 


You were born into violence

bred to cry power against those stronger 

than you. You learned a battle cry

before first words, a hymn of protest. 

You spoke a language meant for war 

at an age meant to learn love. 

Not everyone can be so lucky.  


No one thought of the consequences 

what it means to bear life in times of war,

to throw someone out of the oven

and into the flames. 

It’s easy to stomach someone dying

when it’s not their death to bear;

it’s just like systems of power 

to cut middle men out to keep 

themselves alive. 


You were born to expedite the process,

left lying in the water like Ophelia. 

No flowers to adorn your crown,

only the sunken gumdrop buttons 

mistaken for rocks. 

Your skin dissolved into the stream 

as dirt. Ashes to ashes, 

dust to dust. We’re all buried in the end. 


The song of unsung heroes is the hardest to tell. 

It’s strange, you’d expect 

it to piece itself together, each word 

after the other, but every letter is scattered 

like crumbs across the floor.

Fragmented with no clue of where to start.