Poem: The Smile of the Beast

The Smile of the Beast

It is a bit mangy. Long past its prime.
The fangs are starting to yellow.
Patches of fur are ruffled.
Even the fake eye needs a bit of dusting.

You want to pet it. Totally inappropriate
for a public space, historic and preserved
after a fashion for rooms full of visitors.
But still, you want to pet it,

It was noble once. You can still see that.
The mechanizations of the taxidermist
never managed to quite erase the menace
of the beast, despite the best efforts

to domesticate it, make it suitable for company.
just menacing enough to stir up conversation
to convince the guests of the long departed owners’
bravery and courage.

You want to pet it. To smooth down the ruffled
ragged fur. Dust off the glass eyes.
To lean close and whisper, reminding it that it is still here
and the man with the gun, generations dead.

The guests may wonder at your moment of intimacy,
leaning into the mounted head, but just for a moment,
you think, you believe,
the beast smiles.

About this poem.

I don’t use it much in my poetry, but I have a seriously out of kilter sense of humor. This is the kind of thing that pops out of my mouth all the time in my non-poetic life.


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