North of lumberless land,
we made the animals fight for us.
Sore warped beasts pinched off
the rag-and-bone rack, ones that
bit by barbed bit were forced to
fisticuffs in the scrub slump of hills.
With a hairline rapture these animals
came and went about our days,
leaving their young to defend
the palaces they were forced from
for us. These carousel mammals walked
skewered to the pole. With forepaws
in kid gloves they pricked ears when
tinder sticks lapped the brass-green
kettledrums, drums that laid down the miles
to their relevant demise.
After rock-picking, the fields
were pocked. My uncle with a hazel switch
kicking his mule's hide. My uncle
after twenty more one-mores, his
hat-hidden forehead facing hindsight
as he ox-eyed the ten-ton dewline
that girdled the drumlins. His
humped along the timber-slab paths,
his blinkered mule craning at the headlands;
his pelt hides bone anchor points, marrow levers,
sanguine pulleys. An oilcloth dropped
on his doily-thin, God-given name.
And that's our house, dog-eared
by a balepick hooked in the gatepost
like a tongue licked on winter tin. From
a Caesarean cloudbelly, grey hounds of rain
tear messenger pigeons down to half-tilled fallow.
From the crown of the fox tower I pull my scope
from its rat-hide case, come in close on Uncle,
that mule under his loins scraping home
in ankle drags. The gully was as far as I got
by eye. The rest I only heard,
the noise I'm writing to forget
as the barren hounds got onto him.
Copyright © Jeramy Dodds, 2008