Back to Issue Thirty-Three

The Lions of Orange County


for Lucie Brock-Broido

In February of 1973 a local man purchased a pair
of mountain lions and released them into the woods
of Orange County. He had shaved the names of his
lost daughters into their fur.

– news item

Cut it, you said. Cut.

If this
is the world, it is more precious

lessened.    If this is the world, it is more.

Love, you said, and meant
a thousand doves loosed from the ruins
of the church of you.

Trouble, you said, and meant it.

Once, you said, once
there was another world.   It came to you

like lions through the common things, lashing their tails

through America.

You said the heart
is the medieval basilica, flawless and unfinished

in a great plague.

You said winter, it was always almost winter.

(You had to.   You had to remember.)

Tell it, then:

you were the child

in the troubled well.

Once you were a relic
in your own hands,

intricate and buried there forever.

Look at them, the lions
in the tree-line, their blonde chins on each other’s wintered


This is what we do: we live on.
We appear

like feral things in the fir trees, intricate and bewildered

by the script in us.

Tell us
what is written
in the flesh of us.

Rest, now, your lionhead
in clover.

Teach us what to do, sweet
with the incredible afterlives we are.

Joseph Fasano is the author of the novel The Dark Heart of Every Wild Thing, available now for pre-order from Platypus Press. His books of poetry are The Crossing (2018); Vincent (2015); Inheritance (2014), a James Laughlin Award nominee; and Fugue for Other Hands (2013), which was nominated for the Poets’ Prize, “awarded annually for the best book of verse published by a living American poet two years prior to the award year.”  His honors include the RATTLE Poetry Prize and the Cider Press Review Book Award, and his writing has appeared in the Yale Review, The Times Literary Supplement, The Missouri Review, American Poets, the PEN Poetry Series, Verse Daily, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day, among other publications.  He is the founder of the “Poem for You” Series, a digital space where you can request a recitation of a poem by a special guest reader.  It can be found on Twitter and Instagram.


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