The dead raccoon

The dead raccoon

I’ve been talking to the crows.
They don’t really listen.
They just cock their heads and give me the eye –
And then they begin to caw,
All of them right over my head as if…
As if I have nothing important to say.
I tell them about the dead raccoon
I discovered on our walkway this morning.
I steel myself as I go get the shovel from the garage
and begin to try to shove it up under the raccoon.
The raccoon is stiff and falls from the shovel.
I talk to the crows telling them about
the hard time I am having.
They continue to walk about the yard –
ignoring me.
Give me a break, I mutter.
Please. Somebody, give me a break.
Nobody listens as I carry it across the yard
as it falls from the shovel – several times.
At one point I begin to whimper,
Pleasepleasepleaseplease.
I don’t know why this dead raccoon
has upset me so badly.
My husband at work told me to grab
a shovel and throw it in the woods.
My best friend called me from Tennessee
and told me to grab a shovel
and throw it in the woods.
The crows follow behind me
or skip in front of me on the way to the woods.
I finally reach the woods and
dump the raccoon onto the ground.
I turn but then….
Visions of those murdered children
pop into my head.
I begin to dig.
As I dig, I talk to my friend
the Old Oak.
He is silent.
I begin to dig.
Why me? I whimper.
Why those kids? I weep.
Nobody listens.
Nobody cares.
I tamp the earth down over the raccoon
and place several rocks
on the grave.
The crows fly away
still ignoring me.

For Kerry’s Prompt at Real Toads – a one-sided conversation, written for a silent and even disinterested audience, because poetry is an aspect of individual creativity that goes beyond literary appreciation or criticism.

46 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sarahsouthwest
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 01:27:01

    This is so bleak. You’ve captured those moment when something relatively small acts as an emotional valve for something so much bigger.

    Reply

  2. Jim
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 01:35:42

    Hi Toni — This turned sad, very abruptly. Yes, bury the dead. Even the Nazi soldiers of WWII buried theirs, at least they buried Mrs Jim’s big brother. Do you remember a 70’s song, “Dead skunk in the middle of the road?” Search for it in YouTube.
    ..

    Reply

  3. Frank J. Tassone
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 07:28:15

    A Heart-wrenching witness to heartbreak. Beautifully and honestly rendered!

    Reply

  4. merrildsmith
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 07:31:52

    This is so sad and bleak–yes, what Sarah said above–the one small thing that stands for–or becomes–something else much larger.

    The turkey vultures took care of the dead raccoon we once had in our yard.

    Reply

  5. coalblack
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 10:24:30

    Stop reading my mail, Toni. I’ve felt these things and done this duty. IMO, this should be in a book somewhere. (Do you have a book? You should have one. I want one.) Your depiction of the crows is so spot on. I love them, but they do behave exactly this way. I hope you won’t mind if I share this. Such sadness for a poor animal, for our kids, for having to be in the middle of it and not be understood for one’s vulnerability to outside pain.

    Reply

  6. Sherry Blue sky
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 10:31:18

    Toni, I really feel this poem. The deaths of more children, the grief and strength of the young voices rising are doing me in……..wonderfully done.

    Reply

  7. Helen Dehner
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 10:34:35

    Your poem is sobering (and funny too) reminding me of my own run in with a dead citrus rat!!

    Reply

  8. Kerry
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 11:01:51

    This is so touching.. Wow! First, I thought: It’s the crows. Then: the raccoon.. and finally it dawned: the children. In all, a brilliant piece.

    Reply

  9. Vivian Zems
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 13:30:46

    The trauma of what happened to those kids is bound to taint every thought….quite upsetting.

    Reply

  10. hedgewitch
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 13:36:49

    You really put me there–I am not good with dead animals, or really, dead anything, and your words hit home. Your shadowing of the emotions from larger events is deft and real, as well.

    Reply

  11. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Feb 23, 2018 @ 15:46:55

    This is a great poem… love all you have done with this piece.. death is not easy to face and I can so understand how the dead children came back to you… (though I think the crows were disappointed in loosing a good meal)

    Reply

  12. Sherry Marr
    Feb 24, 2018 @ 10:55:27

    I keep thinking of your poem, Toni. I agree with Kerry – brilliant, with ENORMOUS impact.

    Reply

  13. sanaarizvi
    Feb 24, 2018 @ 12:51:01

    This is incredibly potent, Toni! I like the progression throughout the poem and the shadowing of the emotions from larger events near the end.

    Reply

  14. Victoria C. Slotto
    Feb 24, 2018 @ 20:24:42

    Dang, Toni. You’ve worked the interplay with the raccoon and the dead kids so effectively creating such raw emotion. Death seems to be everywhere these days, or maybe that it’s that we are older and we pay more attention. I’ve fell the feeling you expressed when I’ve had to pick up a dead mouse or bird then drop it with a thud in the garbage. I don’t really know where I could bury it. Chills.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Feb 25, 2018 @ 14:00:05

      When I lived in the city, I would dispose of small dead creatures the same way, often putting into a paper bag and putting into the dumpster with a prayer. The shootings in Florida affected me deeply as they did most of America. It isn’t that we are older, it is that you and I along with others are sensitive souls who have seen too much in our lifetimes.

      Reply

  15. ZQ
    Feb 25, 2018 @ 15:31:52

    Still in prayer…

    Reply

  16. Neeraj Khanka
    Feb 25, 2018 @ 16:09:49

    It is heartbreaking. You have linked the events perfectly.

    Reply

  17. Donna@LivingFromHappiness
    Feb 25, 2018 @ 16:30:59

    This just gripped my heart….even with no one listening, we have brave youth talking….I think more are listening now, but we have to keep raising our voices and showing we have some humanity….a beautiful, heart-wrenching poem!

    Reply

  18. Mary
    Feb 26, 2018 @ 09:37:09

    Toni, this is one of the most powerful poems that I have read in awhile. Really, excellent. I understand the awfulness of having to deal with a dead raccoon, the sadness for the raccoon, the difficulty of carrying / burying it. I understand transferring your thoughts to the dead children. Dead is dead is dead. Raccoon. Children. Dead. And the feeling of not being listened to…by crows or…. Yes, I understand that too. Powerful writing!

    Reply

  19. Beverly Crawford
    Feb 26, 2018 @ 13:15:41

    This is a remarkable poem, so aptly emoting all the anguish we all feel for the dead children and their families. Heart-wrenching.

    Reply

  20. georgeplace2013
    Feb 26, 2018 @ 18:28:02

    That nobody listens and nobody is doing anything and we each seem to carry this burden… powerfully put

    Reply

  21. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Feb 26, 2018 @ 22:52:52

    The uncaring crows = some in society – the raccoon = the high school massacre – Powerful imagery and emotions. Really got to me. Well penned!

    Reply

  22. Frank Hubeny
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 16:21:27

    I like your respect for the dead raccoon in spite of the crows.

    Reply

  23. Jane Dougherty
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 16:38:17

    What I feel is the powerlessness, the isolation of the individual with an event that affects them deeply but for which they have no answer, no solution.

    Reply

  24. paul scribbles
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 16:39:17

    A simply sensational poem Toni. Your conversation with the crows is a timeless one and the collective grief you carry with the dead raccoon is palpable.

    Reply

  25. Charmed Chaos
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 16:41:51

    Heartbreaking and beautiful. Sometimes, the oddest occurrence sets off a whole chain of events within us.

    Reply

  26. Jane Swanson
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 16:47:14

    the caring in such an uncaring world

    Reply

  27. Sarah Russell
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 17:04:46

    Isn’t it funny the way disparate things collide in our brain and suddenly we find ourselves weeping. The helplessness of being able to protect, to only be able to scoop up and bury. Wonderful images here, Toni.

    Reply

  28. Misky
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 18:04:57

    I am speechless at the emotion and depth of this poem. I am moved deeply.

    Reply

  29. Grace
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 18:19:59

    So sad about the current turn of events Toni. I feel helpless in the face of obstacles facing young people and adults these days.

    Reply

  30. lynn__
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 18:50:18

    It makes me feel like whimpering over the coon, wailing over the young people…and it seems no one is really listening.

    Reply

  31. Waltermarks
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 19:38:14

    The brutality of what happened can’t go away. But you were willing to offer a grave to a raccoon. That’s worth a lot, a sign that decency is still alive. Good for you

    Reply

  32. purplepeninportland
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 20:18:02

    Blinding despair. You really have to wonder if anyone is listening. Beautifully written.

    Reply

  33. rothpoetry
    Feb 27, 2018 @ 21:15:36

    I loved the talking heads going on and on without saying anything. Your frustrations are evident along with deep sadness that is resurrected by the dead raccoon. Very great imagery!

    Reply

  34. Rosemary Nissen-Wade
    Feb 28, 2018 @ 03:33:02

    This completely drew me in; I felt the profound sadness, wth the speaker, even before you moved from raccoon to children.

    Reply

  35. equipoise17
    Feb 28, 2018 @ 05:55:10

    2 people tell you to do the same thing one after the other and the crows just skip alongside you until youve gone away…there’s only you thats really catching the feelings up close…and then the thought of what others must have to go through at the end of the poem… a suprise but an important one

    Reply

  36. annell4
    Feb 28, 2018 @ 10:01:19

    I know I read your poem before? But I guess I was waiting to comment. Love this write, and the whimper, “Why me?” Perhaps that is the “great” question of life? But of course the Universe answers, “Why not?”

    Reply

  37. Blue M.
    Feb 28, 2018 @ 14:19:26

    This really hit me hard, and deeply, when I read it for the first time the other day. I think I may have cried.

    Reply

  38. Margaret Elizabeth Bednar
    Feb 28, 2018 @ 15:18:14

    dejected… low-spirits, melancholy

    Reply

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