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Beastie
by Robert Burr

The chewing wallboard sound,
like biting on a carrot,
loud as a dog with a bone,
alternately, quick and determined,
then slow and scratchy with pauses,

other signs of visitation,
possible habitation,
also sounds,

the blatant shifting of what felt like
oversized boxes, thump, bump,
short squeals promising
a longer stay than expected,

    then, later, brisk and intrusive,
    peripheral but startling,
    crawling from under the fridge,
    unsuspecting, miniscule, not at all plump,
    almost scrawny, carrying itself like a workman,
    examining the floor, the lamp wires, the shoes,
    the plastic scone wrapper, squeezing itself inside it,
    sure of itself. somehow, in that enclosure,
    transparent, safe, unhampered,
    rolling on its side, sniffing at surfaces,

        when, in a flash, as surprised as I,
        my foot moving toward it, it reeled,
        taking off like a helicopter,
eyes at the same time
seeking to penetrate mine, its face, mid-air,
aghast, almost human, mirroring mine,
then about face and turning,
        zipping in a moth-like blur toward
        the hole in the wall behind the toilet:

my conscience half-stirred, remembering Robert Burns' upturned
    "beastie," from which we acquired the expression
    "Of Mice and Men,"
deep in the hay, itself more terrified than the poet, its un-coverer,
hearing kind words addressed to it, attempts to assure it
and philosophize with it.

    At first, my traps worked.
    Now it knew their affect:
    Taking in my habits
    Knowledgeably waiting for the light
    before it would step out.

        I used lesser traps, a glue pit:
        one foot in, it quickly shook it off;
        a broom: held silently over its path
        for 30 minutes with no movement;
        the exterminator's black box:
        a trail of oatmeal and melba toast
        leading to its mouth, all
        surrepticiously eaten.

Tomorrow, I'll buy the real deal: forty pairs of sticky squares;
a breadbox with spring doors; decoy mice; mice mace;
Mice-Menos Mice Nip; mice or us headphones; a cat.



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