A King’s Vindication

We snared him overnight
Cabled and held tight to a silver maple
A circle of turned earth
He ravaged everything within reach
Trying to simply be free

He looked me in the eyes
Popping fearsome jaws, snorting
Swiping paws in the air
As my needle found it’s mark
Ketamine in those rippling flanks
He fought but it took him
And he drooped and fell

We said it was in the name of science
Tags, tattoos, collars, pulled tooth
Deep down it seemed sacrilege
Human trappings
Defacing this giant
This Appalachian King
Science. Management. I wonder.

When we finished he was stirring
Under the blindfold his eyes rolled
Lightning in his veins
And the pungent reversal found his heart
Waking him. Back to the light
Grunting, stumbling
Drunk and debauched

Later we saw him
A mere hundred feet up trail
He sniffed the air, winding us
And brazenly shit in our path
Vindication steaming there on the ground




Frost creeps in
And you would assume
it were winter here
But no
This is a supposed summer
If not late spring

How long sneaking in?
I would say a season
But I know better
It shows every time
I marvel a bit
At each arrival

I rub my eyes
Look in the mirror
Lines show there
Laughter? Tears?
And there it is
White in the margins


No Quarter

I don’t want to fight my demons anymore.
I don’t want to lay in trenches with enemy fire marking the night sky
Huddling, afraid to raise my head above the ground for fear of taking another wound.
It’s time for this war to draw to a close. I’ve waged it far too long.
And I have survived, though not without my scars and
Coming dangerously close to my own mortality in the fray.

It’s time to declare victory and deal with dark agents
And give them a fitting end.
I want to call them by name. Fear. Shame. Countless others.
And march them out in front of a crumbling wall.
Giving them no quarter, no final words, and take the last cigarette myself
Look them in their hollow eyes, and let the smoke curl around us
Foreheads almost touching
And face those soulless sons of bitches one final time,
Showing them I am not afraid. Let them feel the weight of my resolve.
And drill the glowing butt between their eyes
Burning them with my anger.

When I’ve named them and faced them I will stand at close range,
Close enough to smell their fear and so they can smell my sweat
Raise my pistol, cock the hammer,
And coolly place the muzzle against the scar I burned,
Pull the trigger, and send them back to the abyss
Never to torment me again.


Prompted Writing: One Week

I am going soon.  I would leave you now with these words.

May they serve you well, even if perhaps I wasn’t able to fully

Live by them.  I wanted to.  Yearned to.

There is beauty in this world, painted in greens, golds, grey.

Acknowledge it.  Live in it.  And do not let the clouds

Trick you into hiding from the rain.

We were made to love.  Live that purpose.

Never shy from it.  We were created by the Great Author to

Shine light and love into the darkness.

Live bravely, love fiercely, and offer His gifts generously,

For in this world there are few second chances, and the arc

Of your story will be the legacy you leave.


(Written in response to a daily writing prompt for WriteYourselfAlive: Imagine you had one week to live.  What is the last story/poem/letter or reflection you would write?)

O Captain! My Captain! – Whitman

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
—Walt Whitman