Two Poems

Wild Oats

A packet of wild oats,
wearing leather jackets,
saunter into town.

We ain’t looking for
no trouble,” they state.

They snap open
switchblades and slice
trenches in the dirt.

Their merrymaking
lasts only a minute
and disturbs no one.

First light finds them
lodged in the ground.

The sheriff declares:
That’s some sowing
they did last night.”

Despondent, he loads
his pistol with blanks.


Bite Down Hard

Your teeth were hidden
when you first put the bite on us.
You said, “Don’t lose any sleep,
my teeth are by the sink.
Beside, I won’t leave a mark.”
So each month, we’d bite on
yet another toothless plea.
And then you figured out
how to unhinge your jaw.
And you taught your teeth
to dance away from your tongue.
It was our fingernails to go first.
Eventually our hands vanished.
Then, in the end, our bark.
When all we had left
were our teeth
we made a meal of bullets.

—Philip Venzke, Stevens Point, WI