Flea Bitten
by Scott Hutchison

Scour and find a scroungy dump mutt; take a glass jar with a screw top
and scratch the dog all over with the open-mouth down, watching
little black bodies leap for the hard clear sky. Cap it. Give the mutt
treats, put a three-month collar on him. Because the dog is innocent.

Unlike that pesty Ben Powel and your now ex-girlfriend. You could fist fight
or cry with bundles of white and yellow daisies in your extended hands—
but you don’t need to see them ever again after releasing your blood soldiers
through Ben’s open window. You imagine Flea #1 sensing

something warm and circulating down the hallway in a bedroom, leaping
enthusiastically, nature’s hungry trampoline artist built for speed
and extra bounce—her beastly legs rocket her a hundred and fifty times
her body length with each jump, and quickly, quickly, she finds

feet, ankles, and begins, rapturously joined by #2 through #20. They want
to make babies. Feast for hours. Purity of purpose in their tiny
parasitic nips. Come morning the vexed humans will scratch and itch
at red spots, ponder small specks of peppery grit around the bites.

Neither of them will ever think about what it means to betray what pumps
through the heart, neither will they catch the irony of lying down with dogs.
But now your skin prickles, knowing that jar is opened&emdash;and you don’t
like yourself; the flea dirt on their legs is dried blood. There’s probably

already larvae, eggs, pupae percolating in the carpet. Maybe the cycle
can be interrupted, in time. For now: you have unscrewed something ancient;
you feel small, vicious: can you overcome and mend this instinctual desire
to emerge from your bitter cocoon with hard-plated intentions to bite,

to colonize your anger, to saw skin and insert a drinking tube into betrayal?
They will find salves, they’ll fogger-bomb the place, hold tight to one another
through it all. Forget them. You go back to the dump, begin again with
the mutt. You will shampoo him, fatten him up, let him sleep on your bed.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 2.

Scott HutchisonScott Hutchison’s previous work has appeared in The Georgia Review and The Southern Review. Poems are forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage, Concho River Review, Aethlon, Soundings East, Steam Ticket, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and Tar River Poetry. A new book of poetry, Moonshine Narratives, is available from Main Street Rag Publishing.

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