Indignant death you suffered

across the bleeding grass

of my front pasture

my husband who dug his

shovel deep in your abdomen

possibly a broken spine

four spindly legs

reaching hooked claws

twisting upwards spasmodically

towards a tortured sky.


What did you do so wrong?


It spooked the mares my husband choked

an animal lover himself

forced to choose

compelled to protect one thing

while harming another.


It didn’t make it any easier

to know you might have babies

anticipating your return with

food for their starving bellies . . .


perhaps you were somebody’s mate

as he waits for you back at the den

never to see you again.


Even you knew

(as most wild things do)

survival is harsh

each moment endured

like it was your last

what will you succumb to first

the elements or a predator?

But you lived to the fullest

fought till the very end

and it didn’t make it any easier

my friend.


Sure you expected to die

but not like this

not today

the sun was shining

the snow was melting

you’re young

this sounds familiar

believe it or not

even to humans.


Was there ever a chance

you wouldn’t have gone in vain?


There was always the

wheels of a careless John-Deere

or the screech of a Semi

that couldn’t swerve.


And now it comes down

to this

so seemingly innocent

you were in the wrong place

at the wrong damn time

and it just so happened to

be ours.


I must ask myself,

the Universe, is

there ever, for anything,

a convenient time to

die or be killed?

We all know the answer.


Whatever the reason,

I begged my husband

to bury you where he

found you


not leave you there for

the buzzards to pick

your untimely bones.


That’s the last thing

I said that day to the

man I married

as I shuffled away, slumped,

in my bedroom slippers

back turned

no one to hear the tears.


Whether you flirted

with progress or disaster,


does it really matter,


nobody wins.



© Susan Joyner-Stumpf

  1. SUSAN SO SAD… I feel so bad for the Armadillo.. what did he do wrong.. I am crying.. Oh Susan.. so sad.

  2. Deb I was angry at Howard for “disposing” of it. All it did wrong was spook the mares in the pasture. Yes, the horses were very upset. I wish there had been a way to remove it to another spot.

  3. I love animals, and you know me Deb , I wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’m the one who literally jumps out the car and helps a Turtle cross the road. When a moth gets in the house, I gently put it in a Kleenex and let it outside. Unfortunately, I don’t like other bugs (like spiders and roaches). And I’m deathly afraid of snakes.

    • Oh that’s so sad.. I wish things didn’t have to die. but they do.. we all do.. but God put people like you on earth to help take care of animals.. a lot of people don’t care about animals or babies or anything.. You see God knew that he could trust you to love HIS animals to take care of them.. You have a soft heart that HE knew HE could use.. Never change Susan.. You are wonderful the way you are.

  4. drtruthman says:

    Oh Susan, I do feel the sensitivity of you in this pain as well as the need to choose by Howard. Unfortunately as you well said in your poem, that is life. Of course, as we well know, Armadillo are one of the last extreme carriers of highly contagious and infectious LEPROSY to both animals and humans. Leprosy as a contagion in most animals including horses can break down their immune system making them more susceptible to pneumonia and cancer, Growing up in FL, Armadillo are everywhere and we were forced on my Dad’s small ranch to chose all the time. They are cute, appear lovable but as dangerous to humans and animals as a rattlesnake if bitten or scratched. We will never understand why in the circle of Life, god in His infinite wisdom created such creatures. But, He did chose and as King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes and The Byrds so eloquently sang, “to everything there is a season, a time to live and a time to die.” I am so sorry for the Armadillo but very glad on behalf of your horses that Howard took action as well as neither of you were hurt. A very beautiful but sad poem. A job well done.

  5. Thank you both…………….Lee, I bet a lot of people don’t know what an Armadillo looks like, LOL. We must admit they are not the most attractive of God’s creatures, but lke any creatures of the Earth, they deserve to live here and to exist on this planet. I wish there was a way (even with the creatures I abhor, like snakes and roaches and spiders) that we could co-exist in harmony, but in some circumstances, that sadly is not the case. Had there been a way, perhas, to somehow get it in a crate and remove it from the area, I would have preferred that method …..but we didn’t have one at the time and actually, Lee, what I left out in this poem is that actually at the time, I was riding one of my gentle mares when it ran out in front of us. Naturally, Poco she spooked, reared and threw me. I got hurt, but not too bad. Shook up more than anything.

    Poco is a wonderful horse, would never have intentionally hurt me, but you know, having owned horses yourself, that, their survival instinct (and one of the reasons they have existed for over millineas and millineas) is because they possess a protective-escape Mechanism called the Flight or Fight Syndrome, and they forget any human around them when driven by fear.

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