40th Anniversary Feature: Ligertown, VII. Case files: photograph of dog 5A in busted Toyota truck

Sep 27, 2013 | Archive, Feature

By SUSAN GOSLEE
BWR Genre Editor, Poetry, 1999-2000

 

As if for a military portrait,
in profile, a perfect right triangle
of a sit, the wolf-hybrid stares toward

 

the back of the truck’s camper. His long,
full tail wraps his side and snaps into place
at his toes. His dark ruff’s feeble: against

 

regulation. Maybe dilapidated
army hospital instead. Maintain regal
posture while orderlies tend to patients

 

who have more obviously and earlier
wet themselves. The camera lens presses so
to the side window’s bars, they go tender

 

and fuzzy. The wolf-dog, while in focus,
only commands the bottom portion
of picture; upper half confounds solace.

 

Laid out like fighter planes, vampire bats part
their beautiful midnight blue background.
They groom the adhesive for battle. Passed

 

through the far camper window, sunlight pounds
cartoon scene thin and shining. Off-camera,
Chainsaw yells, “Cut!” Yells, “Release the hounds!”

 

Likes to crack himself up. Chainsaw, deadpan,
yells, “Incoming!” and ducks into a carcass.
If stay in formation, vampire bats can

 

graze the wolf’s ears. Chainsaw goes bananas
on a semi-frozen elk. Wolf-hybrid has seen
worse, doesn’t even look up. “Evidence

 

is uncompelling,” declared a senior
judge who hunts, back when the authorities
were searching for an Idaho decree

 

to control the compound, for these bodies:
the pictures showed them half-covered in snow,
no entrails lumpily strung like Christmas

 

lights. A hurried bumblebee, Chainsaw knows
his part, but the man, wearing brown Carhart
jacket tied with rope (mountain west going

 

for Saint Francis), says nothing, drags a portion
back to the lousy cages. Chainsaw casts
him more as despot but doesn’t get irked.

 

He ger-r-w-s-s-ch’s his audition kiss
then practices his squawling. A worried
buzzlebee, Chainsaw learns his touch cuts

 

through all swaddling. Lead vampire bat’s needy
eyes burn between jaundice and construction
signs so they’ll play bright star flashing, “Detour,”

 

“Slow.” Chainsaw blow-dry’s out a liger cub
to a lamb. Gorilla-glue and horns make
the truck to the sturdy ox. School children

 

wait for the bus near the rotting donations
slash gifts. The smell alone causes people
to bow down. If there were posters, Chainsaw

 

thinks . . .“Nativity! Real animals!” Please
stop. Nonsense’s the only name on the call
back list. Chainsaw’s 4F: can’t represent

 

his country. He’s not even in the color
picture that cradles the wolf as tight as
truck cages him. Wonderful. Counselor.

 

Some confusion as to the Messiah
in this scenario. Bats’ celebrity-
white sharp triangles of teeth will land west

 

of here ready for mission work. “I’ve ripped
my community theater mask,” Chainsaw
chokes out, “was to be resplendent.” This trapped

 

pageantry distracts. Beneath the camera
flashes and velvet lines, Profanity
marks the flat front tire, turns into the raw

 

wind, and darts unseen across Route 30.

 

 

Susan Goslee teaches at Idaho State University. Her poems have recently appeared in West Branch, The Carolina Quarterly, Cimarron Review, and Salamander.

 


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