What’s not to love? Poem for a small mammal.

I’m strolling up Wilson toward the dollar store when I see him.
A very small brown body. What are you, fellow?
I walk closer and he doesn’t run away. Tail like a rat, face like a hamster.
Are you a lost gerbil? Are you just pretty vermin?
Anyway he seems like a treat thrown down from the universe
till I get too close…
someone so small
should have run from the great ape by now.

Crap, are you dead? Oh, no, worse; you’re dying.
I can see your ribs move in and out, still getting some air,
but there is a persistent fly attached to the side of your nose,
pumping its eggs into your little body before you’ve even finished using it.
Your eyes are shut, you don’t fight, you barely twitch as the proboscis makes its lewd attack,
you’re just buckled down to bear the final pain;
a laissez-faire unit
of nature’s sick economy.

I should smash you
curtail your agony but
I’m too busy suspecting my own motives, my bloodlust, my own indulgence
to figure out whether that’s what you’d really want.

And anyway I just can’t: the fur still so appealing, the breath still too alive,
the little eyes so tenderly squeezing, holding the last of yourself to yourself…

… the little mortal hands… I haven’t got the guts.

So I get a soft straw of grass — I love you but you may be dying of a disease; I haven’t even got the guts to touch you —

and I sit in the nice patch of sun next to where you are losing your life,

and I pet your tiny back with the straw. I hope I’m not just frightening you, I hope your sudden total stillness is a moment of peace and not more terror, I hope to have given you something in your scanty life, but I am also brushing off the fucking flies, stupidly yelling,


as the bastards smell your defeat and come in a cloud.


  1. bronstein72

    I don't know, Ann.
    My landlord just discovered that I smuggled Anton into a section eight apartment, and he phoned my mother to yell at her about it.
    Do I have to let go of him too?
    They're people you don't even have to talk to, and I don't know what to do.

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    Ann Sterzinger

    I might, but we would have to see how Oedipus would tolerate another cat. I've never tried it. She's a pretty athletic cat, and she has her moods. I don't want Anton to get hurt.

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