The Bear on its Back, Black Blooded


The bear on its back, black blooded, on haunches – it’s sunk

In black eyes of twitch and tar and far away and then near, now on its side

Split from the blow on the night road crossing mountain to mountain hurrying

Child bear, yearling, neck groans under the pinnacle of stars and eyes

The many people, chewing lips, parking cars, fat or young or thick-fingered smoking and curious

Pile up on the unlit way now hundred with siren light to watch the rich black fading life

The black eyes that speak of human possibility, of he trying to talk, was he saying – something?

The girl who did the hitting in SUV waits for the cops who will confirm she was legal and aware

It was the bear’s fault.


Petra and I stood on the white road, and from this image

Never to forget, said she, that this was the first bear she’d ever seen, real, wild

She bent close and looked in his eyes, the cops came and waved her off

She suddenly weeping because cop in shock of pistol solving the death with three bullets

Crackling the finality of his pushed arm aiming black light, then waving traffic on

We drive home to New York City, she beats the dashboard, she cries, she cries

She says, He wanted help and all he got was a bullet in the head.


                                                                                                            -Christopher Ketcham