Back to Issue Sixteen.

animal cruelty



Together, we     drove them to panic.
Saliva soaped    their fine mouths
their precise chests.   What is the horse except
a softer autumn    the human except

a luckier set of teeth?   Mother unsung
& elsewhere    whose was the first hand
that curled your churchgirl     hand to a fist?
When the neighbors    licensed in injury

stalked the almond-   tipped & shatterable
does of our forest    what reckless mercy
sent you unarmed    to chase the men out
your own kind-eyed      ponies trussed

& bitted?      Here (my half-
life) now      (without) defend the day
you taught me    to whip mares     to force-wean
foals   They were more

innocent    than we gave them credit for
(hurt earth, hot-   & hurt-hearted)
Mother undone    their kindness was
they could not     speak against us.

Cara Dees holds an MFA degree from Vanderbilt University. She is the recipient of a 2017 Pushcart Prize nomination, an Academy of American Poets Prize from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the 2015 Miller Williams Translation Award. She is also a finalist for Indiana Review’s 2016 Poetry Prize. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, diode poetry journal, The Journal, Southern Humanities Review, Unsplendid, and other publications.

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