Jen Ryan Onken: Lion

for my father

What does it mean, this life of hunt or beg,
the attrition of incisors and the mange? His office work’s
gone strange. Don’t try to lick where his tail’s been sheared
or the clawmarks under his eye that filled with flies.
He’s walking now but has forgotten how to open up
his files. That black buffalo was strong. She’d never
let him on her cub, though he wanted to hold her
in his mouth. He likes his meat dragged to his feet
and cut up small. Eaten slow. Let him wipe the hard
drive of where impala go. Lay down beneath the glass-
green lampshade beyond midtown’s great gray
outcropping, enough bucks to stretch out full-bellied,
eyelids closing on the TV, golf ball rolling—
slowly, deftly— into its proper hole.