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By Clifton Snider

If I think about it long enough,
I can count the number of animals
I have slaughtered with my car.

Not the myriad of flying insects
whose yellow guts splatter
across my view on the highway
or impale themselves on hood or grille
like so many bird droppings.

A cat person
on a crowded L.A. freeway,
I crushed a cat I could not avoid
without jeopardy of human life,
likewise a rabbit in New Mexico,
and lately a bird–quail I guess–
scrambling across I-40 in Arizona
whose feathers burst into the air
after my tire struck it.

Its companion reached the other side
safe, newly alone in the world.

Not so the dog who dashed out
into the street blocks from my house,
nor the one I hit decades ago
driving home late one night,
too young & too drunk to stop.

Others escaped:
a prairie dog on a Taos road,
countless feral cats in my neighborhood,
unleashed dogs.Would I had sparedthem all. Their fates were not mine
to call, nor was mine.

From: Moonman: New and Selected Poems, World Parade Books, 2012.

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