Where else can you go

when the sweet dream turns on you,

hair up, baring teeth, eyes dead-

cold, the low growl from frothed lips . . .

as it slowly skulks away?


Nothing can be put out of its misery,

and who are we to decide

whether an abused bitch is rabid

or crazy? All we can do is move,

turn away and hit the trail,

put our feet on the ground, walk

down through the ferns in the cool cedar

bottom, watch for stubbers, Paintbrush

and Bear Grass, listen to the trickle

of water (or its roar) over stone,

the quake of aspens fluttering in the breeze

below a talus slope of boulder scree,

maybe caress the smooth bark

of a regal Piss-Fir queen—then cuss

her firey pitch-pockets that spit,

stick to, and stain the skin.


What else can you do when

death has betrayed you again,

wrung your love like a sour rag

you hadn’t noticed was wearing thin?

If you’re lucky it’s always new

when life plays you the fool. Don’t fear.

Go threadbare. Use it up. Let it take what

it needs, everything you’ve got.

Just hold onto what remains. Take that

up high. Go outside—call it fishing.


Bathe your wounded soul in Heart Lake.

Feel the flow. Bleed and sing. Know

this medicine—the cast of your line,

the sun shining, a slight wind, snowfields

still holding in the circ—is enough

to help sadness heal broken hearts . . .

in time. Watch your fly, eye the dark

shadows below the surface . . . disturbed—

alone, above, the mallard preens, dips,

and rides the ripples, scans the sky

turning and turning overhead, then flies

on to another pond of stars.

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