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By Vincent O’Sullivan

I’m in charge of a cage. I know those that won’t.
I don’t mean can’t. Just won’t. There’s a roster
for Tuesdays, Fridays. Dogs to die.

The disconsolate, the abandoned, those with recurrent
symptoms, the incorrigible mutt — oh, a dozen
choices by way of reasons. Even so,

some won’t. Won’t play along once their number’s
up. The “rainbow bridge” in the offing
as the posher clinics put it, a pig’s ear

as a final treat, a venison chew, the profession
behaving beautifully at a time like this.
Still, those that won’t. Won’t go nicely, I mean,

with a gaze to melt, a last slobbed lick.
Those with a soul’s defiance, though embarrassment
in the lunchroom should you come at that one!

Even after the bag is zipped, you feel it:
We’re real at the end as you are, buster. We sniff
the wind. What say if we say it together?

Source: Poetry (February 2018)

  • Living
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Vincent O’Sullivan
Vincent O’Sullivan lives in Dunedin and is a novelist, short story writer, biographer, playwright, and poet. He was New Zealand Poet Laureate 2013–2015. See More By This Poet

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