I decided to run alone today
To chase away wakeful demons
Catch sleep on the other side

Ran, pre-dawn, to where
I’d buried Rocco, at the lake mouth
At dead end peninsula
Under the thorn tree
My favorite Springfield spot

Straight shot, from my room
Down a shadowed road
Old homes, older trees
Down the shadowed road

Halfway, I met a little beagle
Zig-zagin’ happy on the shadowed road
Hey pooch, I said breathing hard
In the air cooled darkly
What are you doing on the shadowed road?

I’m following you, he said.
And I, Alright, and we ran
And ran
A ways

But beagle, zig-zagin’ happy
Suddenly sped away
And, Why? wondered I
Did he go back, we’re nearly at
Shadowed road’s end

And there they were
Eighty, maybe a hundred black
Shapes perched in the trees
Perched in the jagged-zag branches
Like black, mascara tears
Hangin’ on the crows-feet
Of a beat’n harlot’s face
Dark pimp, Night, leaving her
For the Day

Who’s that, they said,
Trip-trappin’ under our tree?
Their voices grated
Like Caine’s teeth on
Able’s skull
Sable feather flutterin’
In the wind.

Trip-trappin’? I asked
Aren’t trolls supposed to hang
Under bridges, gluttoning
On living flesh
And a gruff goat’s entrails
Trailin’ from fangs?

Naw, they cawed
We’s vultures
And we go overhead
We’ve got the etiquette
To wait to eat till your dead

Plan on diein’
Any time soon?
they crooned

Naw, I said,
Not in the plans

But you’ll let us know, they cried

Sure thing, I lied

Back on the shadowed road
And the shadows melted
And I got to the opening
Of the lake mouth
Near the peninsula’s dead end

Hundreds of seagulls, ducks, and geese
Struttin’ in the way
Move, I say, or I’ll tell the vultures that you’re dead
And they fled and fled and fled and fled and fled

Out of a hundred-hundred birds
One lone crow, I’m not lyin’
Black blanketed and bitter beaked
To quickly melting night
Crows are Night Birds, it’s true
Some of them misdirect
Like magician’s hands
In the day
So you don’t see what
They’re doing at night

Got that poem done?
He asked, anxious-like
Size’n up my eyes
Hungry for my eyes
Taught the Aztecs
To eat their enemy’s eyes

Workin’ on it, I said
Ready by December
Here to borrow some
Inspiration and sleep and dreams

Aye, he sassed
Flying from his tree
As I passed

There, at the peninsula’s dead end
Surrounded by lake and islands and
Gulls and geese
The thorny tree
And a sugar-glider’s grave

Hey Rocco, I said and
Hey little guy, I said
Need to borrow some mojo, bud
And I did, stooping down
To this familiar past
To this past familiar
Every magician needs a familiar
Says the book on my shelf
Even the word-weaving kind

And I ran back to my dorm…

[Jogger’s note: All the animal encounters are true, this morning, and in the proper order. Even the vulchers! There had to have been a hundred of them in the tree…a pretty ominous sign to see when you jogging alone at dawn. The speech…well…that’s just a rough translation really…]