Stacie McCall Whitaker - Stone Coast, Maine

One Week Before His Death

But Radar won’t eat

food, his food, his food,

his pills, his pills

won’t fill an empty

stomach.

Radar needs pills the hard

way, the finger down

the throat way or no

way he keeps

his food down.

A vet will tell

you to weigh

your options,

“A Scottie has teeth

comparable

to a German Shepherd.”

Shepherd your digits,

dangerous to play

those calcium keys,

but Radar won’t eat

and he

has a platoon

of pills to take.

I hate it here I hate it here I hate it I hate it

I pant, granted,

we are out of

out of options.

Anxiety stuck to

my face like whey

protein tears: powdery,

lumpy rouge.

Give him an appetite

stimulant to stimulate

a taste for taste

so he’ll crave

the taste of meat.

Can smuggle the meds

if he has a taste,

I can smuggle the meds

these meds are murdered

bits of rejected hotdog

don’t reject, don’t reject,

don’t reject this

pill, wasted

if he can’t

keep it down.

I wait I wait I wait

 

Anxiety

 

So I dive

with a nausea pill,

dive into that boneyard

pierce my thumb

on his tooth. Scream,

I scream and burst into a bad

case of the turtles. Turtle

all the way down

to the carpet, shelled by

my own howl—

he doesn’t mean it.

It’s an accident, an accident.

Accented by a thin red slash.

My howl a duet. I screamed

in pain—the melody—but

the harmony?—anger.

Concern in his eyes:

soft whey tears. I

never scream

in his presence.

 

We were close.

About the Author

David Arroyo is a nerd, an ex-Catholic, and a former altar boy to boot. He loves horror films and verse novels. Rumor has it he is currently teaching college composition in China. He holds an MA in English from Florida State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast. His Dungeons & Dragons alignment is Neutral Good.