When to Dispatch by Julia Bouwsma

2013 Poetry Contest Judge's Selection 

When to Dispatch

When it finds its way into the henhouse
when it quills the dog

when she snags her leg in the fence
and the others smell her blood before you do

when it gnaws the siding off your house at 3 AM
when it builds its dam in the road

when you crush his hind quarters
with your car

when she births her calf then lies head lolling into the grass
too weak to stand too weak to nurse

after three days

when it won't eat won't drink won't lay
when an ear flick no longer holds off flies

when there's cancer in the bone
in the heart

when ribs snap when lungs are punctured
when the tail uncurls

when he breaks his back barn straw clinging as he
stumbles up the hill to sleep on your porch

when it's bleeding in your bathtub

after a week

after he pisses himself
pisses blood

when it comes to you on three legs
when she wants to die at your feet

when he tries to bite back

Julia Bouwsma’s poems and reviews have appeared in journals such as Colorado Review, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Cutthroat, The Progressive, Puerto del Sol, Sugar House Review, Weave Magazine, and Wisconsin Review. Bouwsma is Book Review Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, Co-editor of Shape&Nature Press, and Poetry Editor for New Plains Press. She lives in the mountains of western Maine. 


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