We Make Our Own Animals In North Dakota by Frank Reardon

She holds her cigarette
like the Bad Lands version
of Julianne Moore
from a ‘A Single Man,’
but, instead of costume jewelry,
and a dead rich husband,
she takes shots of tequila
and complains about the torn cuff
of her flannel shirt
dipped in beer suds

I imagine she’s dreamed
of slashing a man’s throat
on more than one occasion,
though, left it for the crossbow mind,
for the animals to gather around,
for the revenge, to take the lump,
to proceed without caution
with a nut-sack cutting
hunting knife

She plays Aretha Franklin
and staggers back to her stool
with a crooked smile that whipped
Death’s bony ass behind the barn.
The same barn that ruined her sneakers
and faded Levi jeans
after spending hours fixing
greasy farming equipment,
and passing out drunk on an old
barber’s chair from 1933,
her unpolished and cracked nails
refusing to drop the wrench.

Out from behind the smoke
she shows her face, and
there’s a loneliness
hiding in her laughter
that only the Dakota tundra
understands. I imagine
she once knew a thing or two
about high society’s
cracked vanity mirror
left to die out in wine country,
but a fence post digger
and baked cheap pork chops on tin foil
made a lot more sense.
It makes sense to a lot of us,
even when we like to pretend
we’re a little better off than cattle
attached to a simple number.

Frank Reardon was born in 1974 in Boston, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Minot, North Dakota. Frank has published poetry and short stories in many reviews, journals and online zines. His first poetry collection, Interstate Chokehold, was published by NeoPoiesis Press in 2009 as well as his second poetry collection Nirvana Haymaker in 2012. His third poetry collection Blood Music was published by Punk Hostage Press in 2013. In 2014 Reardon published a chapbook with Dog On A Chain Press titled The Broken Halo Blues. Frank is currently working on more short fiction.

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