2 poems

by Ashely Adams

2 poems



An Apology to the Toad​​ in​​ the Ruffed Grouse Pen


When I turn over the plastic boulder we find a mouse nest

and a toad half-buried in the gravel

and my coworker stops raking

and we both wonder out loud how the toad got​​ in here​​ because it’s so round

and too big​​ to squeeze through​​ the chicken wire or gaps in the door

and my coworker tells me how relieved she is we saw the toad

and how she once hurt one​​ at another job, accidentally,

and​​ in this line of work you hurt​​ animals​​ sometimes

and​​ it’s funny because you’re also supposed to be taking care of animals

and I pick up the toad

and carry it in my dust-stained palms

and I think how merciful I am

and I feel something wet

and when I look down the toad’s belly has split open

and my fingers must have kept the skin stitched together

and I would have thought the insides would be red and not creamy white

and it must have been the rake

and​​ how it must have​​ looked like a rusty blade to this small creature

and​​ my coworker hurt a thing, again, accidentally,

and she doesn’t know

and I know

and this body growing cold feels like it’s gaining weight

and I wonder if the mass of guilt weighs more than fake stones

and the fibers it plunges into finger pads

and I decide to carry this body

and truth

and I lay the toad in the oak saplings, think of all the pretty words

but can only say, “Sorry.”












Self-Care for the Piteous Vermin​​ 


First: Submerge yourself in boiling water. Swell the pores and gape your odious humors. Recline and watch the ring of your own pond scum grow a geology on the bath tub.

Second: Check the horoscope, how Scorpio chases the hunter from the sky. Invest in the soft rattle of cobwebs.

Third: Don’t tell yourself no. Pick up the dead bird.

Fourth: Consider a cleanse to restart you system. Eat the fat, the fermented, the cream cropped. Refill your blood with toxins and rinse your kidneys in salt.

Fifth: Wash your skin with your claws. Hook the boil, hive, pimple, and all your troublesome lodestones with your dusty nail bed. Pull out the itch and let it bleed—scab chitin. Molt an exoskeleton. Strike your legs together and trill.​​ 


About the Author

Ashely Adams is a queer, swamp-adjacent writer whose work has appeared in Paper Darts, Fourth River, Permafrost, Apex Magazine, and other places. She is the nonfiction editor of the literary journal Lammergeier.

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#thesideshow| Micro-poetry| October 2019