Shelby Stephenson

A hunter grows in this place
Between rings on the tail
And sleep turning sun to flowers.

November bleeds blankness.
A dog slobbers in its waking.
A cat meows extended scowls.

The hunter’s son murmurs
To think anyone could kill a thing so pretty.
Finale descends without grace.

Bumble bees thrum fear.
In the jacket, the tail hangs from one shot-bag.
A briar’s hapless as a song.

Shelby Stephenson was poet laureate of North Carolina from 2015-18. For thirty-two years he was editor of the international literary journal Pembroke Magazine. His recent book is Shelby’s Lady: The Hog Poems.