Rabid Skunk                                                                             by Lori Baker Martin 

I smell a skunk  
July noon,  
chain the dog  
to the porch.  
   
In the back lot  
I find the skunk,  
can’t lift its head  
from the hard earth.  
   
Body shudderjuts,  
Hammers,  
I can hear it,  
a lunatic thump.  
   
Red heifer looks on  
from behind the fence,  
chews dry grass,  
herd just beyond.  
   
Skunk’s mouth full  
frothing white,  
can’t lift its head  
from the hard earth.  
   
I get the rifle,  
aim and sight  
at the watering eye  
and the clawing feet.  
   
Stink is bad,  
thick as oil,  
hard to see  
that watering eye.  
   
Shadow beyond,  
cooler under the trees,  
it never sees,  
never knows.  
   
After, dog barking,  
cow careened away,  
rubs her nose  
on a Charolais.  
   
Call people who know,  
they say, Burn it.  
              
I rake its body  
onto a shovel,  
   
so light, like nothing.  
Put it in the metal   
barrel, pour gas on it,  
   
set it on fire,  
watch it burn.  

Lori Baker Martin, assistant professor of English at Pittsburg State University has had both poetry and fiction published in magazines like Prick of the Spindle, The MacGuffin, (parenthetical), The Little Balkans Review, Room Magazine, Grass Limb, The Knicknackery, and The Maine Review. She is a graduate of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is poetry editor for The Midwest Quarterly.  

Editor-in-Chief Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals asTheNewVerse.News, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, and Valparaiso Review.  Harbor Review’s microchap prize is named in her honor.   

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