Dog Skull

Only this can be true:
any harsh hand trowel
must show proper respect
when it scoops its way down
into the hidden tomb.

When you excavate bones
it is better to go gently,
coaxing the yellowed past
from the dirt, where
it waits for its finding.

More sensible still,
first crack open the ground
around this, the end result
of some ancient dog’s fight,
the winner long forgotten.

What of the owner,
whose small head slumbered,
relieved from its fighting
and covered through decades
with dark and muffling earth?

Only this: it will crouch
on your shoulder, waiting
for you. Has it come
to show you exactly
how you can help it?

Volume 12.1 - June 2019

Tyler Robert Sheldon’s five poetry collections include Driving Together (Meadowlark Books, 2018) and Consolation Prize (Finishing Line Press, 2018). He is Editor-in-Chief of Mocking Heart Review, and his poetry, fiction, artwork, and criticism have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Pleiades, The Tulane Review, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and other venues. A Pushcart Prize nominee and recipient of the Charles E. Walton Essay Award, he earned his MFA from McNeese State University, and in the Fall of 2019 he will pursue his PhD in English at Louisiana State University. View his work at