In autumn, a pheasant breaks
its body. My brother and I set to breakfast
when the bird hits the window and lands
like a cross. We look between bites, watch
light pool beneath my father's
arms as they dip into the early sod
cradle the shaking animal, walk it inside
the house, give a glance back
from where it came. My brother asks
what we do. I maintain myself, know
the protocol: de-feather, wash, broil
cabbage, butter, grain, mouths
held in casual grace—fed well
for no other reason. Know we will walk
the trash to the curb, comb the scraps
for acts of god. And when we find cause
to say our chores are done, our suffering
done, that we'll yawn, bed ourselves deep
in that safe black space, forget
for an instant the same as an eternity
this sweet bloodpump of self, remain
until daylight's tremendous, stinging bell.

John Goodhue is a current MFA candidate at University of Massachusetts Amherst. His poetry has been published in Superstition Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, burntdistrict, Knockout Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives in Northampton, MA (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761