“Brotherhood” by X. J. Kennedy

Hungry at dawn, anointing slabs of bread
With oily peanut butter, I remember
The snare I’d laid.  Perhaps a mouse and I
Share the same menu?

I kneel down, from beneath the sink retrieve
The sprung trap, in its clasp
The forehead of a victim who’d believed
Its prize within his grasp:

Stiff frozen tail, expression of chagrin—
Into the trash compactor.  Dust to dust.
It owes me nothing more, this guillotine
Blood-stained, sprung many times, springs red with rust.

Thoughtful, I chew a half-stale apple tart.
More tempting baits I’ve risked my neck for, but
When will the ring of fat around my heart
Snap shut?

“Brotherhood,” is from In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: new and selected poems (Johns Hopkins University Press),

X.J. KennedyaX. J. Kennedy, who lives in Lexington, has published eight collections of poetry, beginning in 1961 with Nude Descending a Staircase (Lamont Award of the Academy of American Poets) and most recently In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: new & selected poems (American Library Association Notable Book) and Peeping Tom’s Cabin: comic verse.  Recognitions include the Robert Frost medal of the Poetry Society, the Poets’ Prize, Los Angeles Times Book Award, Golden Rose, three honorary degrees, Guggenheim and NEA fellowships.  Kennedy has also written eighteen children’s books, among them Brats and a fantasy novel The Owlstone Crown. With his wife Dorothy, he has edited two best-selling anthologies of poetry for children.  More than five million students have used his textbooks, among them An Introduction to Poetry, 13th edition co-authored with Dana Gioia. In 2014 he will bring out a novel, A Hoarse Half-human Cheer, and Fits of Concision: collected poems of six or fewer lines.