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Dead Porcupine: No Metaphor

Honorable Mention — 2016 Poetry Contest

I came across a dead porcupine sitting on its belly
looking asleep—his only sign of injury a crooked
and bloody nose—and thought perhaps I’d get a poem
out of it—this corpse I nearly stumbled over
in the dark cedar copse. But the world

doesn’t always give you poems
when you want them. Why should everything
be fodder for my words? Neither the dead
porcupine nor those still in their trees care a whit
about me or my words. They don’t care

that I love the cedar scent I pull
through my congested sinuses. They don’t care
that I have only one good ear, and with it hear waves
clattering the limestone cobble, wind snaking its way
through the woods. The world is there for itself.

Sometimes a dead porcupine

[as Freud might say—if he were here,
still drawing breath, if he could pull
himself way from the wind and
greenwaterwaves, the cloud-jagged horizon—]

is just a dead porcupine.


Insects seem to creep their way into Steve Tomasko’s poems (even his love poems). He doesn’t think that’s a bad thing. His wife, Jeanie, long ago stopped screaming when a dragonfly lands on her. She doesn’t think that’s a bad thing. But they both still get creeped out by spiders. Steve and Jeanie edited the 2015 Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.

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Phone: 608.733.6633 x25