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

Sep 27, 2013Archive, Feature

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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