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Man in a Fox Suit

Michael Symmons Roberts

Thin red hide, flea-ridden, caked

in mud and cack, thorn-snagged


he limps at dawn through bare-backed

woods, neck ricked and panic rising.


Tongue is purple, marked with plum

and elder, no, his mouth is brackish,


stained with bird blood. At odds

with the wild, this double-double spy


has tried to feign a genome mapped

to brushwood, amber, carrion.


He lives in terror of the true dogs

tearing him to pieces in defence


of mate or prey, to win his ground.

Vixen screams (in season now) beleaguer


his weak heart and I, sole witness, see

him rear up as a man, unlock a house


where he will stretch out in a warm

white bed and cast his rust coat


like an old rug on the floor.

He cannot help but hear the dog fox


after him with dry staccato barks,

rattling through skeletons of trees.



Poetry London No 60 (Summer 2008)

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