that night I put to death
a coon that had been burrowing beneath my kitchen 
undermining my sleep with its bumping
scratching gnawing on the beams
I set a killer trap in the mouth of the hole

just after dark I heard the snap
followed by frantic yelps and a scrabbling 
of claws against wood
when I got there it was wearing 
the trap like an ugly necklace
lips peeled back in grinning agony (no hate 
unless it remembered other lives
walking erect on hind legs)

it had managed to wrestle the anchoring 
chain free from its nail
and was starting to drag itself off
a .22 bullet in the back shorted consciousness 
(I hoped) and its death-fit flung blood
in an arc six feet wide

I carried the corpse away on a pitchfork 
the skin of my arms and hands pale
as foxfire in the full moon’s glow 
recalling how that afternoon
I had disengaged the zebra-striped 
wings of a swallowtail butterfly from
imprisoning strands of nylon garden netting 
how it had clung
to my finger so tightly
I could feel each vibration of the wings 
like an accordion pulled apart and slowly 
squeezed shut
tremors registering on no seismograph 
other than the muscles of my arm 
reaching even to the bone

as the swallowtail mined for salt 
in the pores of my fingertip
its proboscis swayed like a curious cobra 
aroused from its coil by the flautist’s body heat 
too mesmerized to strike