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The Letter O

by Shay Wills

If I were a wolf, I wouldn’t 

Write a poem about being

A wolf. Oh, I’d lope and lunge

Along hills and ridgelines,

My sense of smell would guide me through

The dust and sedge, the pines and open

Space over my head for prey.

I wouldn’t know The Odyssey or Ovid

Or the importance of the letter O

In a phrase like “romantic movement.”

I’d know the taste of deer blood

And scent of the deer’s final, fearful

Dung. My lungs would feel elastic.


I’m no wolf jogging along a boulevard,

Both knees armored with braces,

And I limp from a ligament surgery.

I know what a wolf does not. I know

The letter O is in dollars and furlough, 

And I know the taste of cannoli after gunfire,

The aroma of ink in poetry. Nights are

Slashed back with electric lights

From nuclear power plants or 

Hydroelectric dams that stop the rivers.

Very un-wolf-like, I still feel wolfish,

Which has an O in it too.

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