a St. Sabastian of darts and terror, escaping
the slaughterhouse for the street, its gauntlet
of slow moving cars, lights flashing.
He flees past green lawns where he cannot
stop, chased by those determined to finish
the job, those with cameras out, those who
want selfies, those who pity. I, too, pursue
him along his Via Dolorosa, piercing his flanks
with my useless compassion. By the time
I first see him, he is already dead, my horror
preventing nothing, resurrecting nothing.
This poem eases his final flight not at all.
But a bull escaping the slaughterhouse
must be marked, like those who escaped
the death camps if only to be captured
and hung, captured and shot, captured
and tortured, captured and made a lesson of.
They smelled death on the ones who led,
and turned aside. Despite white-rolling eyes,
they found a gap, a distracted guard, and chose
freedom—however fleeting. Watch
the bull run, flanks heaving, head tossing.
Imagine what he sees, adrenaline-charged—
asphalt, grass, fence slat, leaf, the cloud-puffed
sky—or perhaps only blur, a yawing panic-roil.
I witness—once, twice—though the headline
is a spoiler, wanting to believe in reprieve,
that the sanctuary van will get there in time,
that his heart will slow but not stop, that he will
rest then awaken, still on this side of death.
- Devon Balwit
Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks: how the blessed travel (Maverick Duck Press) & Forms Most Marvelous (forthcoming with dancing girl press). Her work has found many homes, some of which are: The Inflectionist Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Stillwater Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Red Earth Review, Timberline Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry.