Talking To Animals by Len Kuntz

Growing up on our makeshift farm
often became a calamity,
like those times Cathy and Irene,
our Guernsey milk cows,
somehow escaped the barbed wire fence
and made it all the way to 8th street,
hooves clattering on the asphalt
like someone thrashing pots and pans together.
I had two pet calves then,
Go Go and Thunder.
They were exceptional listeners and
for a long time, my only true friends.
I fed them candied oats out of my palm,
milk from a plastic bottle tipped with a rubber nipple.
As they tugged and sucked away,
foam bubbles gathering on their lengthy jaws,
I told them all of my horrible secrets,
how I thought life was playing
cruel tricks on me and my siblings.
I took their wide-eyed stares to mean
I’d shocked them with such confessions,
only to realize later that they were always wide-eyed.
By the time the calves turned two
and were no longer calves,
they became someone’s dinner,
leaving me dejected but grateful that they weren’t ours.
I have a dog now.
She’s a great listener as well,
her eyes shiny and alert as I speak,
sharp ears always upturned at the ready.
Still, I keep my secrets mostly hidden.
She’s a cute little thing,
barely six pounds soaking wet,
unable to bear too much weight
or learning that her owner might not be
the man she assumes he is.

Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State, an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans, and the author of I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE AND NEITHER ARE YOU out now from Unknown Press. You can also find him at

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