Horn, Bone and Hoof by William Doreski

Today’s rain carries the stink
of burning horn, bone, and hoof
a thousand miles from the West where

slaughterhouse debris has localized.
Must I know how carnivorous
a nation we are? I breathe

the toxic reek and taste a half
raw steak. The treetops resemble
rib cages heaving last breaths.

Flowers excited by the rain
suggest the head wounds inflicted
by the captive bolt pistol which

I fear more than the atom bomb.
Why should this dainty May morning
cough up burning calcium

and poison itself with flavors
I’ve never really enjoyed? A wheeze
of suffering rodent. My cat

gnaws a chipmunk, offended
by its vulnerable fluff of beauty.
I can’t rebuke her for being

a cat. I can’t rebuke the rain
for honoring the laws of physics.
Somewhere outside of Chicago,

Omaha, Kansas City someone
tends a bonfire of cattle debris.
I picture a gaunt wrinkled man

with one useless arm dangling,
an old slaughterhouse injury.
He’s inert to the stink. At night

in his rented room he watches
TV and registers no violence,
no humor, cruelty, romance.

And when he sleeps, sitting upright,
he dreams of Eastern woodlands, and rain
blinding sky gone yellow with ash.

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