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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Poem: 166 words
By Betsy Mars

Dead Animals

Residue of mouse, fragments of guinea pigs—
minus the one who went missing 
while we enjoyed our dinner, 
carried off by hawk or owl, we never knew—

three hamsters’ wee, fragile bones, 
several goldfish, decaying, one rabbit 
with his repaired jaw, beloved rats (two), 
the chinchilla who had a taste for raisin bread—

did the cinnamon do him in? 
I still fret ten years later. 

Some future dig will uncover my children’s childhood 
animal kingdom buried in the yard, 

but not the more significant dogs or cat 
whose ashes rest atop the bookcase in cedar chests. 

Will they then discover the spray-paint scene 
beneath the floral mural my daughter painted 
on the wall to quell my rage at what my son created? 
My shame still surfaces recalling my indignation. 

The stain on the driveway I can’t explain: 
some artifact of argument or play, 
a spill the porous pavement drank 
in its thirsty former strength. 

All that this cinder-blocked lot contains, 
decomposing, like our marriage. 

Betsy Mars
Issue 23 (April 2024)

is a prize-winning poet and photographer, and an assistant editor at Gyroscope Review. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals and anthologies. Recent poems can be found in Autumn Sky, MacQueen’s Quinterly, ONE ART, and Sheila-Na-Gig. Her photos have appeared online and in print, including one which was a Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge prompt in 2019. She is the author of two books: In the Muddle of the Night (Arroyo Seco Press, 2021), co-written with Alan Walowitz; and Alinea (Picture Show Press, 2019).

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