The Bear


Maggots glowing red

Swarm the embers

Of my campfire.


Back there

Hearts and Minds

Our only goal


Their Spring Offensive

Pinned down four days

Women and kids

Their bodies

Charred logs

We stumbled over.


They hit us everywhere.


Some we later caught


Smoked dope


At their screams.


I was nowhere.


Shipped back home.


Didn’t like being touched.


Never spoke.


So now every year

I’ve come up here

And it’s him I’ve always seen:

A great black bear

Roaring louder than the gunships

That still shudder through my dreams.


He always charges, feet pounding

Dry clay, stops short rears up arms

Outstretched then dropping back on

All fours turns away

And every year he’s getting closer.


Tonight in this valley

There’s bear skat everywhere,

Tracks too: one set so close

I smell him.



After twenty years,

I’ll ditch these useless weapons,

Rebuild my fire

And then silently stand,

Arms outstretched.



He is bound to come.



Kevin McCann 


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