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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 23: 28 April 2024
Poem: 153 words
By Shaun R. Pankoski


I found a rat’s head on my walk today. 
Just the head. Neatly severed, chin upturned, 
little yellow teeth bared with a scattering 
of grass clippings around her neck. 

It wasn’t the work of a cat. 
Not messy enough. 
I suspect she got caught by the mower 
that chops the grass along the easement. 

I wondered if she had been sleeping, 
or tending to young, or maybe hiding, 
thinking it was safe, far enough away 
from that roaring engine. 

I stood there a while, looking at her. 
I wanted to find her body, 
put it back with her head. 
But it rained so hard the night before 

all the worms had wriggled 
out to the road, trying not to drown, 
only to shrivel in the sun, or to be run over 
by cars. I had to save something. 

So I carried the worms back to the grass 
and hoped for the best. 

Shaun R. Pankoski
Issue 23 (April 2024)

(she/her) is a poet most recently from Volcano, Hawaii. A retired county worker and two-time survivor of breast cancer, she has lived on both coasts as well as the Midwest as an artist’s model, modern dancer, massage therapist, and honorably discharged Air Force veteran. Her poems have appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Gargoyle, Gyroscope, ONE ART, Sheila-na-Gig, Silver Birch Press, and Verse-Virtual among others.

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