—a poem by Justin Hyde

is the scientific term.
a fistulated cow
with a big rubber plug in the side of his gut.
vet students pulled the plug out
to study his intestines.
a small slate-board
at the top of his pen read 'bud',
that's what we called him,
we latchkey kids from the abutting trailer park
ran motley through the vet school.
we fed him sugar cubes from the trailer park laundry mat
his big purple tongue leaving our hands
covered in white thick mucous
we'd wipe off on our jeans
or each other’s faces as a joke.
it was jay,
righteous bipolar jay,
stoked our sense of pirate justice. we all agreed,
bud should roam free in the woods south of the vet school.
gabe took lookout.  i opened the pen.
bud followed jay's fist full of sugar cubes
slimy purple tongue leading the way.
jay flung the cubes toward the woods.
bud trotted out there
into the wide green slant,
getting as far as the drainage hole. then
he was down in it. moaning
in a tone vibrating our knees up into our throats.
it also brought vet students.
two. then six.
they had ropes. boards. harnesses.
someone backed a pickup to the drainage hole.
then the old asian doctor
who often chased us out of the vet school
came calmly in blue scrubs.
he cocked his head,
held his arm out like a pitchfork;
& fired one shot.

Justin Hyde is a poet and Literary Editor for The Commonline Journal. He is the former Poetry Editor of Thieves Jargon and the author of the chapbooks Down Where the Hummingbird Goes to Die (2008) and Another Casualty at the 34th St. Bus Stop (2009). His last collection of poems is An Elephant Hole (2014, Interior Noise Press). He lives in Iowa and works with criminals.