Cruelty

Lucas Jorgensen

something makes no sense

& all of it watching machinists 

work the levers of their hands 


is the opposite of pressing metal 

to the back of my teeth I can’t 

explain it my own hands 


daze me I stole a pocket knife 

from my father once & ran 

its dull blade against the neck 


of a salamander I couldn’t sever 

the head from the body the other 

boys in the neighborhood gathered 


didn’t have to speak to say 

what we wanted not one 

stepped in to stop me to save 


the small animal spilling

over the palms of my hands

I must have killed it but maybe 


worse I don’t know its life 

tossed like gristle we hunted 

salamanders spring to fall 


stripped the silk from our hands 

& replaced it with yellow

bark in a wake of crushed 


chrysanthemums & doors slammed 

the hair on my chest rose

then fell like clipped grass 

Lucas Jorgensen is a poet and educator from Cleveland, Ohio. He holds a BS from Florida State University and currently studies in the MFA program at New York University where he is a Goldwater Fellow and assistant poetry editor for Washington Square Review. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Massachusetts Review, Fugue, ellipses… literature & art, and others.