Benjamin Huffman (2007 Honorable Mention)

A Lesson in Courtesy

My father, age ten,
sat at the dinner table
eating a bowl of cereal.
By his view from the window
a biscuit flew into frame.
An eighty-pound mutt, starved
and badly eaten by the mange
was dropped on our farm the night before.
Now the mutt saw this biscuit, and shyly inched
up the yard, sniffing at the trailing crumbs.
My father grew curious to see that
Grand-dad took a liking for the beast;
he had never kept a stray in the past.
The mutt found courage, stood firmly now
over the biscuit, inattentive from hunger.
And as he threw back the first bite, the heave from an axe
fell and cracked precisely between it’s ears.
Dad lost his breath. The mutt’s legs folded
heedlessly beneath the body, the eyes closed
as a last, muzzled whine exited through fastened teeth.
And, while the dog was drug away
to a pile of burning brush
by the embedded axe handle,
the window, Dad recalled,
grew three times larger.

Originally from Iron Hill, Kentucky, Benjamin Huffman now resides in Chicago, IL. His rural background figures predominately in his work, focusing on traditions and communal gatherings becoming scarcely practiced in the modern world. Benjamin accepts any critques, comments, or discussions at the following email address,