234 total words    

1 minutes of reading

What remains of the mouse moonlights as tender sprig of Little Bluestem, ribboning the owl’s kack as if to appease the happy gods with gifts of tufted fur and white lie. A trinity, the moon and owl and me, rhyme like lefts and rights cuffing ears. Dickinson claims she likes a look of agony—You believe that stuff? She’d swoon for this wan moon and my teenage face beneath the Westside Kings’ hammering fists, the poor boy’s bounced check. Thumbing the big guy’s eyes my teachers called a working-class hall pass. Rhymed that too. The mouse went down like this: furious scurrying then talons and flower stalks, dinner swallowed whole. I’ve been the one on wing not the trembling beneath, as you have, too—in bed doing that so-rough good stuff or at work dishing pink slips, maybe in line behind a woman fingering food stamps, your pricey power shoes tap-tapping. Feels good, huh, to be a mean son of a bitch. I’ve been the one chased and cornered, as now, when I unlatch the woodshed, mice skitter, marbles sprung by moonlight’s thumb in the eye. Want to poke fun at how they sleep and screw and nurse their hairless young while an owl looms in the lone white pine, waiting? Want to call them tiny fools? What good is art that won’t light a fire. Let’s call them brothers, kin beneath the patient beak.

  • Kevin Stein

    Poet and critic Kevin Stein was named Illinois Poet Laureate in 2003 and served in that position for many years. A professor of English and the director of the creative writing program at Bradley University, Stein is known for the humor and insight of his poems, and the lucidity of his prose.

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