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Kim Lozano

2 Dogs that Killed a Woman in Kansas will be Destroyed

West of Watonga

The Phone is Dead

2 Dogs that Killed a Woman in Kansas will be Destroyed

read the headline in the New York Times.
Her name was Grace, and in my twelve-year-old mind
she wore a pale blue bathrobe and curlers in her hair, the autumn sun
having just risen over the top of the neighboring carpet store.
So routine, stepping outside to get the paper on a Saturday morning,
the smell of coffee drifting through the browning eyes of a pumpkin.

She might have started some toast and flipped on the TV, glanced
at the sunburst clock on her kitchen wall before heading out,
having no reason to think about the dogs next door,
unchained and alert to death’s whistle.

On Monday the story loomed over our school like a dark animal.
Teachers whispered in the hall while we, our faces white as ruins,
watched a film about the beauty and order of the universe,
a notion no more real to us than the whirling world of an emergency room.

When the last bell rang we walked the long way home,
as if we could put a thousand miles between us and that house
just twelve blocks down Main Street where in the driveway lay
a two-day-old Wichita Eagle-Beacon, still rolled up in its thin rubber band.

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West of Watonga—

a place where the word critter
was still used, where peacocks
and guineas roamed outside
the windows and a sand burr
or two dotted the carpet.

The mammoth molar my grandfather
found when they put in the road
sat on a shelf next to the Reader’s Digest
condensed books and the King James.
Daddy longlegs languished
in the corners of the kitchen
where I chose the dark meat
and ate the gizzard like a sacrament.

With each visit the house, barns, and fields
folded out like a triptych and then closed,
the coming in then the going out,
the where I’m from and where I’m not from,
red hills rolling forward, and then back.

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The Phone is Dead

The two teens screwing on a blanket in the abandoned shack
            must die, a precursor to the fulfillment of the slasher movie promise
that the virgin always lives, unless the virgin is irksome, then she must go
            the way of the jock who went to investigate the strange sound
and the pot-smoking boy who cannot survive a horror movie morality tale.

Two hours isn’t enough time for them to settle in around the campfire and marvel
            at the dim white faces of their friends, their voices lifting and falling
as rhythmically as ax strokes, not enough time to think about old lovers,
            beautiful and haunting, like hands rising from the ashes.

Most of us have years to blunder around in the dark in a bewildered search
            for love, plenty of nights to tuck our feet securely under the covers
and consider the odds of escaping with only flesh wounds.

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Kim Lozano lives in St. Louis and teaches creative writing for Oasis, a lifelong learning organization for adults age 50 and older. She serves as an editor at River Styx and co-directs the River Styx at the Tavern reading series. Her essays, poetry, and short fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry Daily, The Iowa Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Journal, Midwestern Gothic, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Pinch, the anthology New Poetry from the Midwest, and elsewhere.

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