"Story With a Real Beast and a Little Blood in It”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 2 2012 8:15 AM

"Story With a Real Beast and a Little Blood in It”

Bull silhoutte.

Photograph by Comstock/Thinkstock.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Rose McLarney read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.  

The night the bull broke loose,
there was much to learn. Like,
when a bull lowers his head to charge,|
step close. This is when you can
slip a rope around his neck. Or,
when the men, butted and bruised
with rope burned  hands, give up,
make a path of sweet feed.
The bull will follow it into the fence,
and, quietly, you can close the gate.
But let’s not look to make allegories,
for any meaning beyond the marvel
of a bull, tangled in a broken rope,
sheltering in a culvert, stamping, snorting—
the singular sound that echoed in that tin.
You have a life in which such stories
are not symbols. You too held on
to the rope when the bull ran. You
sometimes flew, sometimes followed
on your knees down the mountain, noting
even in brambles, as you bled,  the stars.

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Rose McLarney's collection of poems, The Always Broken Plates of Mountains, is published by Four Way Books. Her work has appeared in the  Kenyon Review, Orion, New England Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and  many other journals.

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