Judith Skillman
Those Bleeding Hearts

Graphic: "Falcon" ~ woodcut by Billy Childish

Well, naturally
they would have to go before the others.
Not after the lion, chimpanzee, zebra, or giraffe.
Certainly not post-monkey
and dog gangs roaming the streets
of an exiled city.

You could go so far as to say
endangerment would be endemic
to a species whose heart was located
by a red mark suspiciously like blood,
or by the sort of folk
who are overly sympathetic to lost causes—
those island birds, liberals, and ground doves.

They would have to be killed off.
If not by the exact spot
at which to take aim with a shotgun,
then by their own inbred ability
to ooze sap, juice, and pink heart-shaped flowers.
Their pilfering predicated on a tendency
to fall victim to extortion.
To be trimmed, to run together, to seep  through
the covers, as in, stain.

Even to feel grief, pain, or other
equally splashy stubs of emotion
that might be later expanded upon
follows too close upon the heels
of another animal—sentimentality.

What about the vivid red color
splashed across white breasts?
This is no time to wax precious
about their alleged disappearance.
We have heard rumors of sightings.

These bits of gossip and bleeps
have not been recorded with any certainty.
Why would anyone want to give away
the location of that which lies outside the margin,
in the peaceable kingdom beyond pastoral boundaries.