The Smell of Rat Rubs Off

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
Once again you’ve fallen for the lure
of his deferral, his quick eyes’ brightness
slinking from the pantry of the righteous.
Nothing half so sleek as self-licked fur.
Not that he forgot your boots, or left
A single high-aimed compliment unturned.
He’ll double back, affect to be concerned
when he’s the secret reason you’re bereft,
embracing you with his Houdini hold,
repeating chewed-off bits of what you say
so he seems loyal, you the turncoat jay.
You’d think by now you’d learn to be consoled
to know the soul he sold’s not yours but his,
though where yours was a hollow feeling is.

Source: Poetry (May 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 2006
 J. Allyn Rosser


J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), winner of the Morse Poetry Prize; Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award; Foiled Again, winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize; and Mimi's Trapese (2014). Her poetry has also been published in such periodicals as . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Friends & Enemies, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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