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Trust Between Animals

My lover and I spend thirteen hours
trying to rinse the lice from our apartment
thanks to an afterschool program

for local kids in in dire need of hugs,
who hail most often from trailers that reek
of cat piss which, says the case worker,

smells just like meth. It’s tough
to stay mad at them though we manage,
between all these trips downstairs

to the wash machine, our bedding
quarantined in queen-size freezer bags,
plus all the sex we aren’t having.

Still, there’s something to be said
for the way her neck looks as she leans,
asleep, on the edge of the tub

while I drag a biblically thin comb
through her wet tangles, never doubting
that she’ll wake to return the favor.


The First Musician

Sometimes, I like to think about the first caveman
who invented the flute, how he must have

been out hunting something big and dangerous
one day when something caught his eye—

just some reeds sticking out of a pond, all muddy,
but for some reason he snapped one off,

shaped his breath through the opening
and heard it come out clean on the other side,

only changed somehow, more high pitched,
untamed, so that he thought about the wild cry

his child made when she entered the world,
slick as a fish, and as he carried that simple reed

back to the rest of his clan, carried it back
with the same hands that had thrown spears

through hides and ripped meat right off the bone,
he had to stop sometimes to rub his eyes.  


Michael Meyerhofer’s third book, Damnatio Memoriae, won the Brick Road Poetry Book Contest. His previous books are Blue Collar Eulogies (Steel Toe Books) and Leaving Iowa (winner of the Liam Rector First Book Award).  He has also won the James Wright Poetry Award, the Laureate Prize, the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry, the Marjorie J. Wilson Best Poem Contest, and five chapbook prizes.  His work has appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Quick Fiction, and other journals, and can be read online at www.troublewithhammers.com.  He is the poetry editor of Atticus Review.