To Pete, who crushed my dog’s head with a hammer

To Pete, 
who crushed my dog’s skull with a hammer
Let me walk with you 
across our front yard, 
	where the grass runs brown 
	where the pool has killed it 
			forever-dead. I know
			you hate that.
The look of it, a stain 
from your porch. 
	The dog’s bark
	keeps you awake.
			We received 
			your letter. 

We are away. You hear
the howl and the cry. 
	See how fur sheds 
	in clouds this time of year
			like cotton rolling, sticking
			to the ground. 

Take her from the kennel, 
	dragged by the collar,
			and load her into your van. 

Take her to the woods
by the water tank. 
		By the marsh and the nothing place
		I played as a boy.

What sort of thing uncoils 
in your belly
		when you do 
		what you do?

When you drag her
by the tail now
	to the marsh and the crabs
			where do you think you are?

But What About Forgiveness
What about living angels
& the Methodist women  
selling pork dinner tickets 
& nailing my written sins 
to a plywood cross?

What about Offering It Up
to a famous chocolate bust
of John Wesley, foiled in gilt
like a Ferrero Rocher?

Say what about picking rocks 
from a riverbed / holding 
each until it’s blood-warm
& nailing my whispered sins 
to the water’s deepest gouge?

What about coming home
to those first, sharp prayers
made on gas receipts & bits 
of shale / & What about them 
waiting / rattling serpentine 
		in the toe box
		of my boot?


  • Stephen Hundley is the author of The Aliens Will Come to Georgia First (University of North Georgia Press, 2021). His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Cutbank, Carve, and other journals. He serves as a fiction editor for Driftwood Press and is a Richard Ford Fellow at the University of Mississippi.

  • Odilon Redon (1840-1916) was many things: a painter, printmaker, draughtsman, and pastellist, who, over the course of his career, developed a singular style that fed both the decadent symbolism of the late nineteenth century and the modernism of the early twentieth. His work included etchings of disembodied eyeballs and smudged ballooning minds in charcoal chiaroscuro. From Public Domain Review.