Green Hills Literary Lantern

 

Napoleon & Josephine: Domesticated Raccoons

 

 

  


Named as we were,

what chance did we have for a peaceful life?

 

The first time we were separated,

we went willingly, one stepping into the cage,

 

the other eating choke cherries

freshly shaken from the tree.

 

Before you sent one of us into the pine tree,

you assured us that this was only to train the dogs.

 

On weekends, we became tightrope walkers,

learning to balance at the fork of the limbs.

 

We did not know fear at the appearance

of the dogs at the base of the tree.

 

It wasn’t until the sound of your voice

urging them on, that note of praise,

 

that we became aware of what we were,

what use our trembling bodies held for you.

 

 

The Night Shift 

 

The angle of each pin thrust

through the fabric of his uniform,

the positioning of gold letters seam-to-seam

 

on the tip of a collar: even as a child,

I knew the routines. I took comfort in the items

clipped onto his belt – pager, keys, holster,

 

bullets on the nights he left us

for disturbance calls. For him:

it was the discovered body

 

of a teenage suicide

lying for days in a bathtub.

Other nights, he knelt

 

at the edge of our bathtub.

His unwavering voice

told the stories; the rising water

 

unsettled by the dunking and resurfacing

of my six-year-old body.

On those nights,

 

he scrubbed my tender scalp

until the last grains of the afternoon’s sand

spiraled down the uncorked drain.

 

 

Lisa McBride's poetry has appeared in Kansas City Voices, The Oklahoma Review, gumballpoetry, and Thin Air Magazine. Her poem "After Effects" was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize. She earned her MFA from Texas State University and teaches at Johnson County Community College. Lisa lives in Lawrence, KS with her husband and two children.