Walter Pavlich

February 1998

Stan Laurel Tutors a Would-Be Comedian

An ars poetica

If the scene calls
for surprise

pretend the last
chocolate in the box

is hollow
and you eat into

a bee. Then

like brassy wings.
The exag-

gerators chew

or put a hornet
in their watch-

pocket. Don’t
be a smart

Remember rump

humor. Use
your silly buttocks.

Ease down
on a rubber

nail. Taste
your bee.

July 2001

Sarajevo Bear

The last animal

In the Sarajevo Zoo

A bear

Died of starvation

Because the leaves

Had fallen

From the trees


The air was

Getting colder

So the snipers

Could more easily see

The few remaining people

Who were trying to

Feed it.


In the corner of the exercise yard,
Near the boxing ring,
In the short-breathed heat of July,
A shirtless man in prison jeans stoops
Down to feed his ration of turkey hash
To a twenty-eight pound cat.

It eats past fullness,
Stuffed fur mountain
Rubbing its appreciation on the knuckles
Of a man who shot his wife, his dog,
And his car before lunch.

He loves the beast in a fat way,
Because it pisses off voluntary jays,
Because it once backed up
And sprayed a lieutenant’s pant leg,
Because it won’t eat what kills.

It is not just the walls they share.

He pets it for nothing, grimly.
It understands, purring freely.