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From "Stock Pond"

I didn’t put your place (cafo – concentrated animal
feeding operation) on Counterglow.
By now I guess the algo knows. I don’t know what

I wanted to save – my embarrassment. To ride
around the big curve. Loose gravel. A trick of
the eyes – the road goes on for miles. Ditches
of sunlit crosses at night. Every year someone
hits a world record deer. I wash my tires it’s
protocol. Grow tomatoes in fish guts. Cats
in the rafters go after mice. I tattoo puppies
with green inky spikes. In case they get lost which
they never do. They are stolen or shot or
they got on someone’s dead pile and lurched
like a truck backing in.



Stand on top of one bison skull. Float on a pallet in a lake until your face is half ate by an emergent (preternatural) tar. Creepshow. Drive there in your car – down slant lit golden summer cottonwood dirt gravel roads. I have a Civic whatever – it’s like one hamburger on Tuesday instead of two. When I get to the lake it’s drained down a drain, pile of flexy fish bones glisten. I caught a 30lb flathead there, on 6lb test, good luck. I don’t like touching the fish. Cleaning the fish. Holding ponds diesel dug, tested. The lake invested in ph. Two frogs then, on two sides of a leaf, a lily. I want to make the most of this? Bubbles bubble up from algae around. Algae like turkey an abstraction in anonymity. What about fifty. A whole hillside strutting and rebutting.



This deer is shown in the context of the history of all deer.
Here, this great big buck, a buck with antlers measuring
over two hundred inches, which was the goal of its
enclosure and selective breeding program. An advance,
a success – world class. I will show how this program
distracts from, and calls attention to, the systematic
destruction of waterways, landscapes, and livelihoods
through an aggressive monoculture of seed.



the grass is vast and
ordered and not
grass rowed in the hay lot
hay hot in its turnt row
wide row the hawk
descries over
sunstruck corral

I look up cow skull when
really I mean
bleached skull in the desert with
a silhouetted hawk’s
hoarse reverberating call
stock and
how probably it’s meant to
do what a vulture might
flying lower its unkempt digit

I look up cow skull and get
Resin Cow Skull Bull Skull Aquarium
Decoration Fish Tank Ornament Vivarium
Desert Terrarium Decoration Hide-away Hide-out
which is instructive I suppose not least in
invoking the possibility of an
underwater desert verbose I’m surprised I
guess though that the title doesn’t mention
the dead center wolf ikon wolf
howling over a range of sutures in a
rare flipped-hamburger moon


green gray humidity
cloud heat
so thick its infinity
its pioneer
fleur de lis


branch branch tile and
long street the
apex apotheosis
steep as
apple and pig
platter and sprig


knife throw
after knife throw
a knife show
the shop wall
lined with cans, implements
the dirt floor


rows of mown hay slow
turned in humidity
day algaes
pond flips of
baitfish and worm
locust leaf

hawks line the lines and
the fence the corral they
wait and come down
I look around
for the installer
horizon of a poster the
rural electrification
wifi administration streams
red stag red velvet cake


next to the ready mix
yards of sod soaking wet in the jets
an arc of arsenic
over the fence
Head of a Deer

brushing the house
brushing the house with
primer brushing the house with
oil-based paint
a few days
wind brings
operation’s aura of hog


Justin Cox’s writing appears in Annulet, Chicago Review, Grotto, Mercury Firs, Tagvverk, and elsewhere. Justin teaches at the University of Iowa and has been a fellow at the International Institute of Modern Letters in Wellington, New Zealand.







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