Hunger

 

Marcus Whalbring

Hunger
 
There’s a werewolf in our town again.
Its first victim, an insurance salesman
found, what was left of him,
the next morning in a shopping cart
in the parking lot at Wal-Mart.
 
The newspaper gave his name,
Glen Bowers. They quoted the police chief
who said they knew it was a werewolf
because they pulled a tooth
from Mr. Bowers’ femur and because
there were hair follicles stuck in the blood
drying at the edges of his wounds.
 
My neighbors and friends wondered
who the werewolf is, of course. They asked,
“What’s going to happen to poor Mrs. Bowers?
And didn’t they have kids? Should we
buy a security system? A gun?
What’s the moon doing this weekend?”
 
But the question I keep asking myself is,
Why a shopping cart? Maybe the wolf
was taking the rest of him home for leftovers
but got waylaid by a raccoon
diving from the dumpsters into the woods.
 
Or maybe Mr. Bowers was already in the cart
because he is—was—a sort of whimsical guy
who occasionally ended his shopping
sprees by pushing his empty cart fast
through the parking lot so he could hop in
and go for a ride, and maybe this time
he was so lost in the joy of it he didn’t see
the dark eyes glowing emerald
in the LED lighting, the muzzle curling
and wrinkling up from the sides,
the long-limbed fur flinging itself at him
from between two cars before he had time
to let the smile fall from his face.
 
I can picture him on earlier shopping trips
loading the last of the bags into the trunk
of their minivan and turning the empty cart
around. And I can picture poor Mrs. Bowers
strapping their youngest into his car seat
and looking back to see that gleeful,
hungry look in her husband’s eye again,
as she slides the door shut, sighs and says
to this man she loves so much “Oh, Glen,
please don’t!”

_______________

Marcus Whalbring has published three collections of poetry, most recently A Concert of Rivers from Milk & Cake Press. His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies like The Cortland Review, Spry, Dead of Winter, and others. He’s a teacher in Indiana where he lives with his wife and children.

Author’s Backstory and Comments: I’ve wanted to write a poem that featured werewolves for a long time. I love the world they evoke, their ties to histories and cultures of the past and present, their connection to film, etc. The hardest part was trying to come up with a fresh way to introduce that element. So I tried to pay attention to any possibilities while working through the draft of the poem, and I found it in trying to think about the victim of a werewolf attack, which made me think of the way, in our world, it’s so hard to humanize victims of tragedies when they’re talked about in different forms of media. That’s often dealt with better in art, poetry, fiction, and so on. So it was cool that a poem about a werewolf attack led me to that conclusion.

Editor’s Notes and Image Credit: Combination of two images: Dark Werewolf Wallpaper [wall.alphacoders.com] and Man pushing cart [toppng.com]

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