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Clade Song 13

Cleaning the Rabbit Cage

The round, brown, uniform, odorless turds
like diminutive canon balls piled
in a tidy corner

are identically unidentical,
no two exactly alike,
like snowflakes. I’m shoveling them

into the urine-soaked newspaper,
examining one and then another
between my thumb and forefinger:

individual, fungible, fudgy,
yet in the aggregate
a perfect whole, a dusting,

a few errant pellets spilling
onto the floor as I gingerly
remove the mother lode.

And what must he think, Pepper,
masticating in the opposite
corner, knowing enough not to

shit where he eats, even in such close
quarters? What must he think,
he who always seems to be thinking,

chewing things over and over
with his two sets of incisors,
one behind the other,

seeming to pay me no mind,
yet surely noticing me here,
my head inside his cage,

harvesting his excrement,
as though I were of a mind
to make something out of it?







Paul Hostovsky's newest book of poems is Pitching for the Apostates (forthcoming 2023, Kelsay Books). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac, and Best American Poetry. He makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. Website: