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Splinters of chicken
bones grinding
muzzle mongrel
dog: friction of
species lit afire in
tortoiseshell fur:
lap up mixed breed
like skim milk like
refrigerator soup:
you hybrid canid
your mule ambiguity
wolf shape-shifter
bark: runt native
& intersecting &
elsewhere: immigrant
of repeat overlaps
of skittish colonized
mestizo body: howl:
who is your kind
original beauty?
by two enduring
loves at least.



The white, tortoiseshell-patched cat curled nonchalantly besides the withered body means Death.  The ravaged mind cannot decipher, hence, despair.  The cat channels Charon-in-fur, a guide down the river which runs through all our lives.  As with the ancient Egyptians, companionship to some heaven is preferred.  What is unknown, yet sensed in the dying air, blossoms stealthily in the feline nuzzle, the patience of the vigil.    In our final hours there is gathering.  Around a nondescript bed, a cat’s elegant purring.  Curtains sweep the open windows. 

Dressed in baby blanket it hangs from a tree among the hidden thickets of trees.  The branch weeps from the strain of the bundle’s whimpering weight, then a horrible yelp slices open summer, fog and night as it’s set aflame.  Imagine a living thing on fire, suspended like hell’s pendulum.  As any creature would it fights until fire weakens the rope and it falls smoldering, a comet of fiery muscles, a thud of cooked flesh, odor of singed hair.  Emerging from its lit cocoon, it struggles on all fours: the pit bull, burning.

Is this the immaculate conception for our modern times: a mule foals in Colbran, Colorado?  Witness the diorama: mule in manger and her pointy-eared, gangly-legged offspring, an occurrence so rare it’s bestowed divine interpretations.  Does this genetic impossibility signal an end or an epoch?  Name the spotted foal Jesus and see where she leads us.  Aah, cum mula peperit.  


Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Imago (CavanKerry Press) and Subways, a chapbook (Thrush Press). He lives in Queens, New York, and works at Columbia University. His poems have appeared in Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets, jubilat, From the Fishouse, World Literature Today, Smartish Pace, Sou’wester, and the anthologies Language for a New Century (W. W. Norton) and Flicker and Spark (Low Brow Press). He co-founded Kundiman (www.kundiman.org), a non-profit organization serving Asian American poetry.