Dan Chelotti


When I come home
there is a lion waiting.
It is not haggard.
You cannot see ribs jutting
out beneath the edge
of a ragged mane.
I'd say the lion is perfectly healthy
but toy-solider small.
When I draw close
it roars like hell,
postures to nibble my finger.
I don't understand
what it's doing in my world
of ketchup smeared paper plates
and dollar scratch tickets,
of toothpaste and gin.
Its little roars are no louder
than crumpling a post-it note.
I can't bring myself to kill it
or put it outside.
At night sometimes
I think I can hear it
purring in the kitchen,
and during the brief
flashes of clarity
that precede sleep,
I know that it loves me,
that it is only wanting
to protect me,
that, while terribly
insufficient, it will take
on whatever darkness may come.


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