Lament for the Feet

By H. L. Hix
Except a six-year pony penned from birth
inside a barn, I never seen anything worse.
Eleven dobermans and mixed breeds, some still pups,
removed from a residence after anonymous tips
about a dead dog decomposing on the porch.
Still and yet, this many dogs almost beats that one horse.
The problem of human freedom one might couch
in other terms than Kant’s. It’s nasty in there.
Dog shit everywhere. I don’t see how she could breathe.
The woman, nearly ninety, wept and pleaded
with the workers. I’ve been raising dogs right here
in this very house since before your mothers were born.
If I’m treating these dogs as bad as you say,
how come you need those chokers to drag them away?
The Humane Society truck’s radio, left on,
played “Me and Bobby McGee.” They were strays, unwanted.
I fed them and gave them a home. Now you’ll kill them
and call me cruel. And who will protect me?
How will I sleep? When asked, the welfare worker
said the woman cannot be forced from her home.
But freedom of will is not freedom from necessity
and obligation. The neighbors lost interest soon
and left her lawn. Meanwhile a breeze blows in
from the Gulf on a girl showing her friends the spot where
she lost her left foot to a shark. He kept twisting it
like a dog with a rag, she says just to hear them squeal.
Really, he only managed to take a chunk and maul
the rest, but the doctors had to amputate.
She had to learn to trust loss. And in Houston
a boy tries to jimmy a padlock with a broom
to free his six-year-old sister from the storage shed
their parents told them was “the naughty room.”
She was causing trouble at school, wetting her bed,
and threatening to run away. We made a decision.
We thought a few hours here was best for her.
Police said the girl had been left water.
A person may purchase the wind and the sun
at the price of perpetual peregrination.

H. L. Hix, “Lament for the Feet” from Surely as Birds Fly. Copyright © 2002 by H. L. Hix. Reprinted by permission of Truman State University Press.

Source: Surely as Birds Fly (Truman State University Press, )

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Poet H. L. Hix


Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Pets, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment

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 H. L. Hix


Poet H.L. Hix was born in Oklahoma and raised in the south. He earned his BA from Belmont College and PhD in philosophy from the University of Texas. His collections of poetry include Perfect Hell (1996), Rational Numbers (2000), Surely as Birds Fly (2002), Shadows of Houses (2005), Chromatic (2006), God Bless: A Political/Poetic Discourse (2007), Legible Heavens (2009), Incident Light (2009), First Fire, Then Birds: . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Pets, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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