I Animal You | Three Poems

by Rebecca Hazelton

I Animal You

In the formerly
our future I saw a note
you passed to a passing animal and that animal
was not the quiet sort
who could keep a secret.
The note said that I was an animal
and you were sick of my musk,
the note accused me
of eating the rosebushes,
of bounding across streams
and fouling them in the crossing,
and that the dead hounds
to kitchen doors
were not the acts of cruel boys
but my crude attempts
at communication.

Yes, the cows won’t give milk
yes, the cat comes home with one ear—

and it’s true,
what you say,
I do flick at my eyes
with my long jeweled tongue
I do crawl into volcanos and suck the heat
from the earth’s belly,

I am what you knew
me for when you banished me
to the backyard
where I hold your note up
to the moon
I howl at, which is not your face
but tears the mad out of me
all the same.


I Practice Haunting You

In our salad days
I used to shuffle
around your apartment
pretending I was a victim
of vehicular homicide
and you were the drunk
who impaled me with his car.
I made a lot of penetration jokes
and you wrung my blood out
of a washcloth.

I don’t know if you ever realized
I put my head in a box
to sing on your nightstand
for a purpose.
Every morning you groped
for your alarm clock
and I tried to kiss your fingers.
That was pathetic.

Lately, I don’t know how to get attention.
I poured a bath and stretched out
under the water.
I was there for days.
I pruned.
You kept saying, “What’s wrong
with this tub? Goddamnit.”

It’s true. You should move
to a better apartment.
You should get an exorcist.
I think he could tell me how to better
myself. How the real ghosts do it.


I Spy Animals

When you part your lips to say the password
I see the film
canister just under your tongue
and in our kiss
on the moving train
we exchange the information
and certain chemicals
that move us closer to a terminus

where I will drop my disguise of French philosophy student
and you will shave off that ridiculous goatee.

Days like these, with you working
for multiple governments
me a triple agent
I see our courtship
as sham against brighter lights of honeymooners
and young parents— but this is the deep cover.

Ten years from now
in front of a full sink of dishes—

I’ll realize the job is done
the package delivered
the beautiful
safe once more.

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About Rebecca Hazelton

Rebecca Hazelton is the author of Fair Copy (Ohio State University Press, 2012), winner of the 2011 Ohio State University Press / The Journal Award in Poetry, and Vow, from Cleveland State University Press. She was the 2010-11 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison Creative Writing Institute and winner of the “Discovery” / Boston Review 2012 Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, The Southern Review, Boston Review, Best New Poets 2011, and Best American Poetry 2013.

Rebecca Hazelton

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