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Little Death Livestock

Of course there was no bull

Published onFeb 08, 2023
Little Death Livestock

Photo by Christine Kozak:

The best lie he ever told me 
was about the bull on his 
grandfather’s farm, an atypical
creature all the cousin-children
played with, brushing his hide, 
nuzzling him between the eyes, 
treating him like a beast prepared 
for better pastures but still consenting
to human contact, almost like a working
animal. Of course there was no bull, 
or farm belonging to his grandfather;
he hated his cousins, called them
rednecks and true believers; bulls 
might remain tame for extended periods 
but the lack of volatility eventually 
inspires a new round of their territorial, 
disruptive imperative. I should have known better
but I was a city girl, the suburbs
actually, and I was homesick
for my parents who read to me
from a children’s book about
a friendly bull and somewhere
in my memory there’s a Girl Scout
or Brownie adventure to see
a bull in our very own neighborhood,
a holdover from when the area was 
fire trails and rural outposts, another
tale we told ourselves about how we
were special. I remember this bull
like the other, as black and shiny on 
its flanks as sable, like a primordial
wetness at the bottom of a wormhole
or the rinse stars are birthed in, so
their stories are always ready for 
that scalding realization. 

 Jane Rosenberg LaForge writes poetry, fiction, and occasional essays from her home in New York City. Her new collection of poetry is My Aunt's Abortion (BlazeVOX [books] 2023). She is the author of three other collections, four chapbooks of poetry, a memoir, and two novels. Her most recent novel, Sisterhood of the Infamous (New Meridian Arts Press 2021), was a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in regional fiction (west). 










The Potential in Architecture 


The art of the possible

            in the ranch-style house

circa the summer before  

            the sick cries  

of digestive mishaps rang out 

            like the first message 

by telegraph: what hath God

            wrought in his wisdom 

of making some deaf, and others


awful, intolerably loud; the builder

            followed the hearing woman’s

specifications so echoes would

            travel paths between bedrooms

and backyard; an addition she called

            a service porch, the appliances

digging holes in the floor

            as they jerked with too much power


still voices had to indulge in area and diameter

            if they were to navigate doors

and corners; it’s uncivilized, the mother complained

            as her daughters completed thoughts

that had dwindled to mere tinctures of

            what was meant, or needed to be said,

instructions playing off the hollowness


of stucco and lumber, concrete on slab, 

             the pouring of tar or gravel,

an intact family, happy if not strong, 

            diabolically sober; who else

could say as much, where there was

            no television before homework; 

no pets without the approval of the grandmother;

            the neighbors will know everything

at this rate, the decibels and evening

            meal held at an unholy hour

but for the fugitive sprint of pubescent

            bare feet, pounding on hardwood

as if elephants called into battle.  


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