No Uninfluenced

by Jay Butler



I used because I got a dog,

because the dog got sick,

because the dog died,

& I’ve never had a dog -heard around the rooms


What about this body, sagging

like a hammock strung 

between next season & yesteryear.


I feel as though I know this place—

maggots in the sparrow’s eyes, tears 

in mine. How have I gotten back?


That stuff’ll burn the hair off

a wooden leg, said the older one 

with specs aglint like a copper still.


Moss-swallowed railroads & rusty beaters

hunker in scrubgrass like dead bucks. I feel

 uglier than when I was a child,


my hunch bulbous as Pilot Mountain. What is

all this hubbub of want & waste, steadily

marring, invasive as noxious weeds.


Like the swish of a scythe, day arcs

away through August grass. 

What is up with the sky, fleeced— 


streams of speckled trout. 

I think I've been here before, where

hunger outlasts all prey. Praytell,


what of that ridgeline, spiked

like a heart rate in rapids—





back to University & College Poetry Prizes