The Followers’ Prayer
We are not the hounds,
and we are not the quarry,
and we are not the One In Charge.
We are not the quail
flushed from a thicket of briers,
not the vultures overhead,
their black wings carving
circles against fierce blue,
not the three, white-tailed deer
bounding away from the path.
We are not the thorn tree,
nor the red bud piercing into bloom,
not the improbable geometry
of the fallen rock wall,
not the geese in formation.
We are not the sound of the horn,
not the crack of the whip.
We are not the sighting,
not the scent,
not the kill.
Blood Sport Sabbath
The hounds are wild.
One coon treed, its mate burrowed
in the brush pile and screaming, they claw
through dead branches, collapsed wire fencing,
briers, old lumber. They howl
their bloodsong, insensible
to the litany of sired names, the command
to Leave it! They find
purchase in a ringed tail,
drag the creature to the surface, tear
into meat and fur until the crack
of the huntsman’s pistol quiets
all but the wind breaking in the winter trees.
The dogs stand down, obedient
under the huntsman’s strange patter,
and scatter, snuffle the damp ground
for new quarry, the scent rising
in the warm afternoon. We follow
in a ragged line, uneasy
about the weather. We know
that the day should be colder, mercy
more certain, that there is no
getting right with this god.