Roxanna Bennett


Bird Beaters

 No choice but to bludgeon it from crow
to carcass with its head at that angle,
dark feathered dangle, hard blunt blow
to sever the soft neck’s hang, quell

the strange strain of pain broken
bones made. Rock, paper, scissored
our decision, who to choke the croaking, 
administer the mercy beating. Shored

up the loser, helped choose her switch,
heavy, quick. No one disputed kindness
versus killing, or threatened to snitch. 
Evident lifeless better than flightless.

The park went still when she raised
her stick. It stared at death with one
slick eye; she met the plea of its gaze,
dutifully crushed its skull. Solemn,

we scratched a small pit beneath
the black alder bush, laid it tenderly,
limp in the indent. Feather bequeathed
to the brave executioner, commended

her steady skill. Someone scuffed
dirt over the little stiff. We left behind
the burden of concern, grew up
into faltering monsters, disinclined

to decide. Preferring the suffering of others.

Ghost Weight

If we don’t hang together
and submerge our small
hates, if we don’t weather
the unbearable all
with each other, They
will have won. This
is tomorrow, this day
and this. We miss
their ghost weight;
even the haunts we will
grieve for. Our freight
is our loss, the still
living need our strong
to hold on to. Hold on.

Atlas of Anchors

her tongue is winter
and this body hard earth

this body is a mass grave
and I am the memorial

to be a body nothing grows inside of
to be a body ripe with wrong

this body buckles
its gravity a gas giant

this body seethes the fractal fascia
classical atlas of anchors

to be a body that cages only
to be a body captures loss

her mouth is summer
but this body has no season

Where’s The Dog?

 This is how you are brave, insistent instinct.
You remember too much, that’s what the doctors say,
not answers but anniversaries like a fist
inside. Don’t want to acknowledge what lays
siege to your physical. Will what’s left of you ever
be located? Even by dogs? The image of mother
who couldn’t want you, cellular memory of no, never, 
pledged to the bone. You will stay this age and other
subjects less, can’t control language when object alone.
Leave and lean toward losing. Can’t stand losing.
You never meant to leave, want to lay this down,
what you would be losing if you left. Ferocity in belonging,
being missed. To say nothing of the dog is to comment
on its absence, its failure to deflect your own sadness.

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