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I was at the sink stacking dishes in the washer

after breakfast. Dad’s face appeared

at the kitchen door. Something was wrong.

I don’t remember how they told me.

My horse was dead, spooked

into a metal post, must have hit

an artery, bled to death.

It was Sunday. God didn’t let

things like this happen.

Didn’t go to church that day.

We had to bury Big Red.

My parents wouldn’t let me watch.

The bulldozer had to drag him to the hole.

Spent the rest of the day trying to be brave

but after every phone call, I cried some more.

I’ve had other horses,

watched one die

as wind picked at his mane.

But I haven’t been back to church.





The ultrasound shows

the tumor that slips

between vessel walls

letting blood pass

into your gut.


I watch as the veterinarian pushes

sodium pentothal into your vein,

wait for the drug to leak

into your cells. 


                      Breathing shallows,

                      eyes distance,

                      heart  falters.


Was the last image

to reach your darkening brain

my blurred remains?



The painted bunting cannot escape

the mesh.  Wings and head tangled,

feet twisted in black net.  It rests in the net,

begins to flutter at the bander’s approach.

Quietly, she encloses its wings in her hand.

Pulling the net from its feet, wings, head,

it flaps and pecks at her fingers, the angle

of the sun that drives it to flight fading for the day.

She places the rainbow bird in a white bag

Painted buntings have taken this route


since time has been measured.  Only Archaeopteyx

can reveal if flight grew from a glide to another tree,

a hop to a branch.  Its ancestors have seen the growth

and retreat of great ice, birds follow the same path

despite clear-cut forests and barrier islands


swept clean by Katrina. The bander

places a silver bracelet on its leg, measures

wing, tail, and bill.  It rests for a moment

in the bander’s hand

this strange perch.




The triangle floats in formaldehyde.

Hemangiosarcoma on the pathology

report, unusual on the ear. 

I am disoriented

looking at my cat’s ear

separated from his body.


I remember my high school job,

pushing patients and cleaning

whirlpools.  Judy came down

every day for the Hubbard tank,

I was asked to sit with her,

a suicide risk.  She and her boyfriend

rode a motorcycle, played chicken

with a car.  She lost her leg.


After she left the hospital, we went swimming

at the park, everyone stared.  I wonder,

does Ivory have an altered body image,

like Judy.  Mother taught me not to look at amputees

but with only one and a half ears, he is funny.

The stump rotates to collect sounds, a clumsy ballet.

The edges are crusty, the remaining cartilage

still bruised and red.  The soreness

must be gone, he rubs his head

against my hand as he settles for a nap






I-85 North-my tires bump

on the spaces between slabs

of concrete sections, a rhythmic

thunk.  The rumble strips rattle

to wake me.


And it doesn’t matter if I am coming

or going when I cross the black snake

of the car counter.


One of my favorite sounds—

the tire scrunch on the gravel

that welcomes me home.


That double thud is the one I hate.

The rabbit in the early dark,

a squirrel’s moment of indecision.


Later still, the turkey vulture,

not finding anything larger,

sits in the road,

cleaning up.