Cycles of Mating


What yelps, far up wooded Oaken Ridge?
Foxes or coyotes, amorous or ravenous.
I, wrong species of mammal, cannot reply
without revealing an imposter’s presence:

stumble-footed, downcast clown, put out
of rhythm by his tragicomedy of free will.
Cycles of mating have made him dizzy, like
the spinning teacups at amusement parks.

Well, if I’m to love you, it will have to be
in the shame of full exposure, abdominals
drooping, each past mishap with your sex
still writ in desultory whorls of body hair.

Notice how skin has begun to sag beneath
my chin. I am in fact turning into a turkey
tom. Soon you’ll strut behind me in a line
of Bluebeard’s spouses, pecking at the dust.

If I ruffle the grouse’s feathers so it erupts,
practically underfoot, I lean against a tree
till my heartbeat slows. You have a similar
impact: the tenderness I never see coming.

Russell Rowland

Russell is from New Hampshire’s Lakes Region.A five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he is a past winner of Old Red Kimono’s Paris Lake Poetry Contest and twice winner of Descant’s Baskerville Publishers Poetry Prize.His chapbook, “Train of All Cabooses,” is available from Finishing Line Press.

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