Posts Tagged ‘poetry; sad poems; animals; death’



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




moments recorded in

                        The Book of Regrets

behind inhuman pens

pushed past their own resilient limits

a lone car spinning in the dead of night

Reaching for the Stars

along a seemingly endless, precarious mountain pass

not even fireflies can compete with

its blaring headlights

            stabbing the thickening fog

passing a hit deer along the road side

her frantic heart still beating

and this monster of glass and metal

abandons the outskirts of demi-light nowhere

            heading northbound into the

nameless township of

                        skyscraper somewhere

leaving nothing behind

anymore remarkable

            than the swirling dust it stirred

or the stones it kicked off to the wayside

between the white dividing lines

segregating a two-lane highway

trees that canopied the winding bends

sway not by wind

            but engine fuel spilling

            its toxic lung

across the gasping leaves

sharp eyes of a startled raccoon

narrowly missed

by the roar of hungry rubber


            the distance of asphalt chips

a careless climb to the top

that will matter to nothing

not even to the open, empty space

that existed fine without its



an owl looks on

imprinting his unrest

upon the frosty air

            with his sad, disenchanted hoot

the song of squealing brakes

barely dodging a homeless dog

terrified beyond

            the growls of its own

                                    starving belly

the following curse

from grumbling whiskey lips

that even embarrassed

                        the wind


            the stories

            that will never be told

and refused to be written ~ ~

when even the skies serenade

above our weepless


and we wonder,

            how we humans pause and wonder,

why even stars

            drop out of love with us . . .

© Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Final Gesture

I was six

playing alone

on Granny’s farm

across rolling fields

stretching endlessly

into a North Carolina beyond.

I was picking daisies

and wild berries for jam preserve,

when I was struck

by a chestnut mound

ahead of me in a grassy curve.

I knew enough about stillness

not to have to be told death.

My grandparents’ plow horse,

Teddy, lay there, sprawled,

in morbid quiet beauty,

his bulk still warm and regal,

bugs buzzing over glazed brown eyes,

close to the earth he once so diligently plowed,

and now he eloquently surrendered, bowed ~

his final gesture.

I cried all the way home

skipping over creek beds,

dangerous stones,

falling in granny’s waiting

arms; granddaddy came

running too to hear my news.

As granny later wiped my tears,

she told me Teddy had been

their priceless draft horse for

twenty-two years.

Now it was time for him to

fertilize back the Earth he once

tendered with docile, loyal toil.

And, because I was only six,

believing grandma when she

said he went back into the Earth

to fertilize,

I went back to wait, to watch,

for him to grow back to us.

~ ~ ~

© Copyright 2011 ♥Susan Joyner-Stumpf



Somewhere in a bed of hay, an Elephant weeps.


There’s the Keeper that raised her, but he’s deaf

to her existence other than

to expect her submission when he yells demands in the Ring.


Is it no wonder

the baby calf that lies inside is afraid to come out.


Over a thousand years, her Kind has been our Slave

trained to bend at our every fashion and whim

forced to dance with Chains and Fire and Ice.


This night he beat her and left without leaving water and food.


As she stood wondering what behavior had been perceived as wrong,

her hunger drove knives deeper in her sides than Winter’s pierce.


She’d done nothing wrong except be an Elephant that a human man

Who felt worthless thought he’d feel better if she was Hurt.


Somewhere in a nameless town, an Elephant Dreams

of thundering across tundras in Africa with a Herd

that protects her from nightmares of Men that whip Elephants.


As Dawn breaks in the early hungry hours,

at last a grateful Elephant sighs,

and draws one last breath in this gift of peace and knowing silence.


So opens a Floodgate to Humanity’s Loss

that  becomes an Elephant’s Triumph.


Somewhere in a bed of hay, an Elephant Smiles,

and joins the Herd she knew only in Dreams.   



Author’s Note:


This particular Poem was written at the

age of 10, back from a Circus with my

family.  I was fortunate to see many

Circus animals “behind the scenes”

because my father was s Prestiege Member

of Society, and had “friends in high and/or

low places.”  Therefore, I didn’t always

like what I saw.  This is one case, out

of many . . .



~ ~ ~

© Copyright 2011 ♥Susan Joyner-Stumpf

Do you know that dolphins are gentle mammals?

Do you know poachers still butcher them?

Do you know they are highly sociable, highly intelligent?

Do you know they touch the souls of the sick and can heal them?

Do you know they have saved humans from drowning?

Do you know, despite cruelties done to their kind,, they still like us?

If you know this . . .you won’t be able to read this poem . . .



~ ~


In a Dolphin’s Eye



In a dolphin’s eye,

I saw ancient mysteries

of the deep unfold,

         regret that swam

         in his retina pools

weeping through my veins.


In a dolphin’s eye,

I felt oceans recede

to polluted tides

         from where he lived

         in once foam-free waves

seeping through his gills.


In a dolphin’s eye,

I heard distant chants –

songs lost to man,

         ones he sang

         his gifts from the sea

before poachers stopped listening.


In a dolphin’s eye,

I saw his murderers,

the ship that took him

         the men that cut him

         leaving his eyes

to tell the Story.



~ ~


© Copyright 2011 ♥Susan Joyner-Stumpf♫



Grandfather asked me to walk the

Fence-line with him.


“You must learn the ways of

Your forefathers, how to read

Danger; how to heal the wounds

Of the land.”


Born of Cherokee blood, I understood

The manner of tribal disciplines.  I was

The only son of Dragging Hoof, my

Father, lost to a white man’s war.


“Dust Eagle Eye,” he mumbled

With ancient breath

Tobacco thick on his tongue.  He

Spoke my name as though sending

It high to Sky Gods for approval.


Made fun at in the school outside

The Reservation, I’d been nicknamed

Dusty, the name spared for my

Father’s golden horse

Who had died mourning the master

That never returned.


A mile into the traverse over boulder,

Brush weed and creek, we came across

One of the calves face down in mud,

One great liquid eye peering at us as

Though jealous we were still in this



He was ripped wide open from throat to

Immature groin.  Grandfather bent down

To study the carnage as though measuring

The size and distance of tracks, deciphering

The traveler, concluding


“Big cat, Panther, perhaps.  I see the

Jagged edge of teeth marks; the blade

And shape of claws that must have

Come down swifter than arrow,

Final as lightning.”


With a knot in my gut, I asked if

The end had been swift, with

Little suffering.


“Yes,” grandfather said, perhaps merely

To cushion the grief.  “There are possessions

We must sacrifice for a greater good;

Offerings we have no choice but surrender

To bring forth abundant harvest.”


With solemn hush I accepted this.


I wondered how long it would take for

Scavengers to skeletonize the calf

Beyond any former recognition of

Its innocent, perhaps reluctant,

Appeasement to the Wheat Corn Gods.


Secretly, as we walked away, shoulders

Held high, hearts low in the beating chest,


I prayed to these same Gods that Great Birds

Of the sky spare that one piercing eye staring

Back at me from beyond through the dust

Of sanctity, so melancholy.


I wanted to remember forever that uncertainty

Of whether it ever forgave us.



~ ~

© Copyright 2011 ♥Susan Joyner-Stumpf


Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized





what did you not recognize

            of trust staring back at you


in the liquid eyes of the sheep

         (the unicorn look-a-like)


            her fleece like ivory snow

ruffled keen by Irish hills

above her where the


tending flock tasted summer

in the safety and

bucolic light of meandering streams


but oh ~


she was singled-out

(not as luck would have it)

from the others


            for she had been the most special

tame      approachable


gentle in her carefree animal spoon


how her friendly bleat could be heard

all the way to your deceiving





she died a noble death

giving her wool to you

                        her life for you

                        so naively

                        so unregretably


as the bayonet came down

across that beautiful, benevolent neck


she had no suspicions

                        no lingering remorse

gifting you

                        the softness, the forgiveness,

of her



                                                            eyes . . .


~ ~

© Copyright 2011 ♥Susan Joyner-Stumpf