I’ve been afforded too few opportunities

to prove I’m merciful. Carrying

carrot peels & broken arm-

fuls of eggshell to the compost heap,

albumen’s dregs iridescent in the glowering

sun, I call the millipedes that graze

their estuary of decay for dinner, rise,

eat. So logical, their little bodies,

concatenated & sable. The human head

keeps seeing twenty seconds after

being guillotined. I wonder if the basket

catching heads at executions ever gets reused,

holds folded towels in the guest bathroom

or stacks of canned sardines in the épicerie.

Fish don’t feel pain like we do, so

my friend scales & filets the pile of bluegill

in his truckbed while they’re still

mouthing their word for water. I watch

the knife divide the body like a loaf

splits into slices, so that everyone can eat.

Every time I smear my toast’s stoic face

with butter, I’m holding a blade

whose ancestors demanded sacrifices:

blood, skin to be woven, guts to be wound

across the gape of a lute. Justice

suggests I should subtract the plastic

bag’s weight when I place my haricots verts

on the grocer’s scale, but I pay anyway,

& take the bag home, where I use it

to pick dog shit off the lawn. Most days

I’m liable to waste hours watching videos

of animals being freed from barbed wire.

Poor possum, spitting like a grease fire, who

could blame you, turning back to bite

the hand that pulled you loose? The fence

did just what we meant it to do.