The smell of violent death clings to him,
he of the innocent eyes and the murderer's soul.

That smell triggers the memory of the previous night --
me, running down the street screaming his name,
searching frantically for him in the darkness.

Suddenly, shrieks of pain and horror filled the air,
a sound that echoes through my mind even still.

I raced to save the screaming victim
but only a whisper of life remained.

She heroically, albeit weakly, protested her fate
with the last vestige of breath she had left.
Her soft little body went limp, and then she was gone.

Tearfully, I wrapped her tiny carcass.
Sneaking out in shame into the night, I hid her
in the dumpster behind the nearest convenience store.

That smell -- a strong, bitter smell of blood
mixed with trauma and fear, followed me home.
In desperation, I tried to scrub it from my hands.

Now he seeks to regain his place at my side,
but I fear this union has become tainted.

By morning his warm body is snuggled next to me.
I melt as I realize I still love him, then pull him closer,
he of the innocent eyes and the murderer's soul.


This poem is for Angus, my father's dog, who escaped long enough to find a stray cat's litter and get one of the babies. Unfortunately, the result of his breeding was an instinct to kill (usually badgers, rats and rabbits). Since we adopted him full grown from the animal shelter we had no opportunity to have this instinct trained out of him. I was unaware of how strong this instinct was in him until now.

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