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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