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Two Poems | Clara Bush Vadala



Taxidermy Class


The mice we use are ethical, they come

from frozen reptile food. We warm them up

by rubbing abdomens between our palms

until the limbs resign to let us sculpt


their disembodied joints with wire. Now,

we offer crucifixion in reverse,

we splay their palms and pierce them. We allow

their empty skins to flail like flags. We curse


the moisture weeping out of every mouse.

We spread detergent like a salve, it dries

us out. Our teacher tells us all about

the dos and donts while sewing up their spines—


how freezing twice destroys a rodent’s pelt:

the hair that keeps them looking live, falls out.



Sonnet for the Many-Named Louse:

Papillon d’amour, Pthirus pubis, The Pubic Louse


Why do you think this louse would want to live?

—this lazy flightless buzzard sucking skin

for pleasure (creeping, crevice-finding itch).

It crawls a nest in coarse-haired places. Then,

in folds of flesh, it burrows claws, fat head,

dull teeth until it must not breathe a breath

of air unless it’s dander filled, or dead

integument. This hungry ick will spread.

Its eggs, like glue, create another bug

of short and ugly build. Relationships,

it relishes. It shares itself, a drug

of lust. Unpeeled, this louse’s crusted lips

might wheeze: it lives for this: the product of

desire, crab louse, Butterfly of Love.





Clara Bush Vadala is a poet and veterinarian in Celina, TX. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thimble Literary Magazine, SWWIM, and 3Elements Review. She has written two collections of poems—Prairie Smoke (2017) and Beast Invites Me In (forthcoming 2020), which are available from Finishing Line Press.


Twitter: @doctorVpoetry

Facebook: Clara Bush Vadala