Prayer for the prey
by Paul Brucker
The sky is a mouth wide open,
waiting for whoever wanders down the lane
(you’ll do in a pinch).
That’s what became of Ruth,
tidy, quiet, cheerful little Ruth.
Even though a bag of seven wood lice was buried
to appease the famished arms of the old ash tree.
You see, you’ve only got one chance –
in fact, five seconds to make a first impression.
So, look closely into the venomous eyes.
Will your interests or wishes prevail over theirs?
Or will you be too easy,
too easy to tear, crunch, chew and swallow?
Hear the creeping in the bushes
followed by grrs, snarls and/or roars?
See the nostrils flare and mouth salivate
as lights flee into strange filaments
with no relation to the dark?
Because mother protects her baby, she’s eaten by the fox.
When baby gets to water, he’s swooped up
and gulped down by a seagull.
Meanwhile, the 180 million rats bred annually
for America’s pet reptiles
do not satisfy demand.
Nevertheless. prepare for your party.
Use sudsing action
to make synthetic cotton clean.
Throw expired cans of soup into the mix.
Chop, season, shake and bake
(as if desirable characteristics
will be — no, must be — legitimately rewarded).
But no one shows up
because of something you are or are not.
Or because your prey responded
before your stimulus, thus avoiding
the consequence of the stimulus.
After all, someone has to look bad
to make others appear less bad.
Someone has to be fettered in the field
to protect the crops from thunder and hail.
Your mother did the best she could.
God did the best He could.
You also, perhaps, did your best.
So there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Pretend you’re surrounded
not by teeth, claws, intestines and shit –
but by golden light.
Tell yourself that you’re important –
that you’ve got a customer and satisfy a need
even if the need is to taste like fresh, buttered corn.