I didn’t cry when I saw it,
the dead hair matted back with blood
and muddy rainwater.
I should have cried,
hid my eyes
from the upturned lip,
the chipped fang and black-ocean pupils
frozen in gutterworn rage—
the sorts of hollow, holy things
that we aren’t meant to see.
I should have cried
the way I did
when Grandpa died—
a needy, feline yowl.
A slow, realizing series of sobs.
I should have stopped right there,
middle of the road in the rain
and tipped my hat,
turned my eyes,
apologized for my sins.
Grandpa would have been proud
that I acted like a man.
If I told him today he would laugh,
squeeze my shoulder a little too hard
and say, “Ain’t your fault.
Thing should’ve stayed out the road.”
But later, alone and deep in his own
reasons, Grandpa would weep into a pillow,
limp like a cat
John Belk is an Assistant Professor of English at Southern Utah University where he directs the Writing Program. His poetry has recently appeared in Sugar House Review, Crab Orchard Review, Salt Hill, Kestrel, Worcester Review, Sport Literate, and Poetry South among others. His chapbook, The Weathering of Igneous Rockforms in High-Altitude Riparian Environments, is available from Cathexis Northwest Press. His scholarship can be found in Rhetoric Review, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Composition Forum, and edited anthologies.