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Dead Dog on the Highway


ISSUE:  Spring 1984
Looks already a part of the shoulder
mess, assimilated into weeds and tire-peels,
ditch trash. Swollen tight and gray
with diesel grime before we find him,
who loved to fanfare every truck on the dirt road
but had no way to judge the speed
of oncoming playmates on the wide-lane.
The transfer must have seemed to burst
out of its future at him. The brake skids show
how far the rig’s momentum slapped him
in the last and longest leap of a life
of running cars and field mice.

Someone has broken a Falstaff bottle
so he wears a halo of crushed ice.
He looks frozen in mid-gallop except
for the wrongness of the broken back.
The paw pads you want to caress
they’re so familiar. A fang exposed
through sooty underlip bites turf.
Traffic shivers the dirty fur and ear.
No bloods shows, though ants are busy with the eyes.
The body is so heavy we feel it must
be glued to the dirt as we drag it away,
as though dead flesh has found its bed
and would stay there until it soaks
into the topsoil and rots a fume
across the trails of hunting weather.

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