Walking the Wolf
    Christine Boyka Kluge
Sniffing and panting, the poem lurches ahead, while your mind struggles to follow, yanking the leash. You keep holding it back, circling the familiar neighborhood, shivering in a nightgown under your coat. The poem, wild, pulls you along, barking at the pockmarked moon like the face of an enemy. It jumps up, sliding muddy paws across your chest, licks your face, whines. In its frenzy, it winds and unwinds your ankles with the line, darts ahead, digs the leather into your wrist. You have no choice but to follow; you hurdle a fence, almost flying. You keep thinking the poem is after the deer that float like ghosts among the sleeping azaleas. But the poem inhales the scent of a larger, invisible beast--a shaggy behemoth that follows the tracks of the distant night woods, raking the soil with its claws. You smell it now, too. The poem aches to run it down with a snarling pack, to lunge at the swaying underbelly. It already dreams of blood on its tongue, the taste of thundering heart.

Christine Boyka Kluge's first book of poetry will be published by Bitter Oleander Press in 2003. The Bitter Oleander featured her poetry and interview in their Fall, 2001 issue and gave her the 1999 Frances Locke Poetry Award. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Tupelo Press' prose poetry anthology (ed. by Ray Gonzalez), Sudden Stories: A Mammoth Anthology of Miniscule Fiction (ed. by Dinty Moore), Arts & Letters, Luna, New Millennium Writings, Poet Lore, Quarterly West, Quarter After Eight, Rattapallax, Tar River Poetry, Disquieting Muses (dmqreview.com), The Diagram (thediagram.com), Adirondack Review (adirondackreview.org), and others. Her work has received seven Pushcart Prize nominations.


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