BIO: A widely published poet for over 40 years, Mr. Cantrell’s work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry Northwest, Southern Poetry Review, The Madison Review, Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, Miramax, The Café Review, The Hamilton Stone Review and others. His awards include grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board, residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale, and the Vermont Studio Center.

Wild Wreckage (full-length)—Červená Barva Press, PO Box 440357, W Somerville MA 02144-3222
Cicatrix—Parallel Press
Greatest Hits—Pudding House Press
Index in Which You Might Think the Fury Is Unconscionable Material

A mystic in the morning, but a lounge lizard
by night’s no way to be. Right?
A sudden blow, and the woman who
had never been to a boxing match fainted.
We shouldn’t have been that close to the ring.

By the road to the weather-beaten hospital,
my car broke down. I laughed when I
pictured an ER for cars. It was cold.
It took AAA two hours to get there.
Before they arrived, I listened to Auden on tape,

ate cookies and drank coffee. Auden didn’t
make me feel better, but he did make me think
about despair, which is big with some of my friends,
but I enjoy long bike rides, checking out roadside
flowers and clouds piled like sheep in a gray meadow…

Death is another milestone, not a headstone.
That’s why at night, bike headlight, rear reflector red.
Life, friends, is dull enough, but suicide
can take a hike, and don’t swim in a lake
when you’re contemplating divorce.

Amicable: He can have the house. Hateful:
I’m taking the asshole for everything. Whoa!
Check your inner resources. Look at wavelets,
tiny bluegills, poplar trees on the shore,
turning their leaves, silver-side to a breeze.

Besides, remember the jokes you loved to share,
like this one: Two martinis walked into a bar,
took a table in a dark corner, and told the truth
about each other, or was it a lie?

* * * * *

Scoping a Wild Pig

My finger is air, and my brain
is Jello, which is why I cannot pull
the trigger to shoot a pregnant sow
in thorny underbrush. Did the moon
or the stars make me feel this way?
Or some Freudian stuff about manhood
misunderstood? Or my reading of Kant
and others on morality? I’m not sure.
I’d like to think hogs have souls, and yet,
and why am I out here in the woods
in the first place, except for a chance
to see if I have the guts or not?

Who will care if I kill a wild pig?
My thumb is ice, my eye is locked shut.
My hunter pal is mad, but guesses
I am a pussy. So we don’t drag a 200-pound sow
through the trees, and we’ll eat no ham.
And soon, all things being even, a piglet
will slip alive to the earth—a creature
with feelings, with a soul or not,
free to run and eat and fight and fuck
its way toward its own eternity.