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A New Thing In Another World: Poems - Billy Malanga

Wildcats In The Cave

I heard bickering coming from the basement,

about not wanting to go to school, about

responsibility, test scores, endless self doubt,

and the oncoming storm of eighteen.

Then, my wife’s battle scream from

the Neolithic edge of the cave.

A shriek so wild and prehistoric, it came

from deep inside her ancient warm bloodedness.

Mother and kitten marking pieces of territorial

highland and mother not backing down.

It made the dog whine and me spill my coffee.

It reminded me of our basic instinctual leftovers

that have lingered for thousands of years.

If she was going down into the dirt, she was giving

her the whole deal, eye to eye, ears back, and

flea claws out.

My wife roared that morning for the ultimate good

of the kitten. She left her biogenetic scent through

her claws like two steel smoking revolvers.

Hell, there was plenty of food in the den

but, this was bigger than habitation. This was

hardwired wildcat development that has carried us

out of Mongolian caves and across the snow

packed mountains by the neck.

It leaped from her sharp teeth and into the face

of humanity, downstairs where spiders and pipes

move things around.

Mother wildcat got things right with her kitten.

Raised By Wolves

There is a wolf at the base of my brain. Pausing, sniffing nose up,

picking things out of the remote sweltering landscape of ancient red rock

like a machine. It howls in the exposed barbed ether of cool dark gaps,

well arranged, spike toothed. It holds me.

Lupine phantom fangs grip my neck like a mother carries her young.

It walks inside a bloodshot abyss, under red cliffs, where it hides and licks

blood from behind my eyes. Its awareness extends beyond fur dark gray.

Sunrise is always most brilliant when it finds its way through red crevices.

I dream of bright yellow and green rays of soft light chasing me,

all the way down into the fractured running stream, where depraved

juniper tears my flesh.

Both of my hands circle and dot the sandy floor, where white water

once ran wild. Mad rocks plunge nearby, falling when they have had enough.

They slink and lay motionless below in fortified heaps. Blistering inflamed

dust dances with coiled devils. They can’t see or hear me.

I feel a clamping pain on my neck. Polished sharp incisors and soft fur

neatly tucked beneath a starched white collar. One generation teaches

the next. Up ahead, my invisible scars rest in a shaded gully where a lonely red winged black bird sings to my red wilderness.


I drifted inside myself on a dark Alabama trail

while my Vibram soles munched dead leaves,

an overlay to my pulsating framework.

It felt good. Then, I thought a stick smacked

the side of my leg but it was something else.

Two hypodermic needles from the roof

of your mouth punched holes in my leg.

No rattles or warning shots,

just eyeballs snapped wide open and voltage

running through my veins like wild horses.

I never saw the hit coming.

You pulled both triggers at once and doubled

the recoil. Your choice to go in wet instead of

bone dry was costly. I noticed a Mississippi Kite

with black under wings circling above.

Your slithering forked tongue gathered particles

of reality. Your level of readiness inspired me,

it was like you were savoring my red fear.

You were coiled and I was vulnerable,

standing at the edge of a shallow grave.

I knew you would slither back into the wild

pine to reload, you had a habit of doing that.

Antivenin sat cold and still on forty-five miles

of indifference. Numbness and sweat filtered

my opinions about the world. This was no place

for bumper stickers. This was my aporia.

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