top of page

raised by wolves

by Travis Stephens |

my mother is dying

breathing labored, forced

to seek a cool den

the damp earth a refuge

a hole.

We wait nearby, my brothers

who won’t look me in the eye

each watching the wall,

who will be next?

A glance away

let the loud

snarl murderous thoughts

while we others

carry the grudge.

I shiver, understand as always

my teeth rotted and dull.

Even my father, that son of a bitch,

kept his bite until the end.

I was always ignored

last to marrow

filching bits from

other’s old kills.

earn your keep.

We are a large litter

six males, one female.

My wife, baby girl,

always the cute one,

marveled at my brothers

“you have the same eyes,

and the nieces too”.

I’d like to believe

the next generation

is tamer, a little more wag

a little less bite.

But I have seen the way

their own young

start at noises, regard

new puppies with more

than affection.

I have begun to eye small houses.

I don’t need much;

a bowl, a patch of sunlight

& dirt walls closing in.

| Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California.


bottom of page