Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

PoetrySnaps! Shawnte Orion: Cul-De-Sacrifice

Courtesy Shawnte Orion

In the latest installment of KNAU's series PoetrySnaps!, southern Arizona-based poet Shawnte Orion brings us a little dark humor with his poem Cul-De-Sacrifice. It’s an updated version of something he wrote years earlier about a neighbor’s missing cat. The neighbor long-suspected foul play at the hands of her then-boyfriend. It was only through a chance encounter years later that she learned the truth. Shawnte Orion calls it a classic story about life in the desert.

Shawnte Orion:

It was originally just a small little poem that started off from one night late in the neighborhood. And it was published originally in some little online journal, I think 'Red River Review', or something like that.

And, like they say, poems are never finished, just abandoned. A few years later, I ran into the girl who is a tangential character in the poem, I would say. And, I suddenly got to find out more of the story; find out things that happened that I didn't know about at the time. So, I ended up being able to add on an extended version of that poem that incorporated the new aspects that I learned.


A new housing development has replaced
another patch of uselessly pristine desert
displacing an unfortunate generation of coyotes.

We saw the evicted pack roaming the neighborhood streets
late one night. Mistook them for malnourished dogs
until we looked closer

as they tore into a neighbor’s cat
who chose the wrong night to wander
onto a dark front lawn.

Three years pass when we encounter
late one night between grocery store aisles
the girl who lived in that house.

She is surprised to finally learn the truth
about her cat’s mysterious disappearance
and she remembers old suspicions.

Suddenly realizing that she chose the wrong
reason to break up with her boyfriend,
three years ago.

About the poet:

Shawnte Orion is a poet based in southern Arizona. He is he editor of rinky dink press and the author of The Existentialist Cookbook and Gravity & Spectacle, a collaboration with photographer Jia Oak Baker. Orion hosts monthly poetry readings across Arizona, performing everywhere from bookstores to bars, and museums to laundromats. He will perform in Flagstaff, July 14, as part of the Off the Rails Poetry Series. The all-ages show starts at 6 p.m. at Late for the Train coffeehouse.

About the host:

Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft.

About the music:

Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.

PoetrySnaps! airs the first and third Friday of each month.