dead dogs

by Benjamin Mast

dad swears off steak

after our beagle

freezes in fisher’s pond

buddy cracked the ice chasing

a squirrel then was trapped underneath

discovered only after march’s slow thaw

dad’s reaction is nonsensical we know

there is nothing to do

but it feels like justice

and every steakless dinner after we mourn

the wet snout no longer pushing at our hands for scraps

 

florida is vanishing

and i wonder what i can do

to grieve

my husband says to forget it

“florida is a lost cause anyway” he says

and we are laughing now

unreasonably because this is tragedy

but i tell him not to pull 

the ground beef from the freezer

“no red meat” i say

we do a curry instead

and he asks why

 

i eat teriyaki (chicken) from a drive-thru on marginal way

forgetting there’s pineapple in the sauce

until the cold sores arrive

like barnacles on my cheeks’ insides

each night i gargle salt water

to convince them they’re home

so they can quiet their anger

“do justice” i say

each night to my dixie cup of water

“love mercy” i say

my tongue evades my mouth's red potholes

but the water finds each wincing crevice

it says “i am your god”

my shoes are florida-wet

and i believe

About the Author

Benjamin Mast grew up in a small Mennonite town in Indiana, but has since been more nomadic, living in Chicago, Seoul, Virginia, and Indianapolis, before recently deciding to move to Seattle. Wherever he goes, he seeks good literature, good food, and good volleyball. His writing has most recently been published in Rhubarb Magazine, The Write Launch, Mikrokosmos, and The Phoenix Literary Journal.