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Wednesday, September 09, 2020


by Pepper Trail

They are coming out of the hills into town
Young bucks, spiked with peachfuzz velvet
Old bulls, necks thick and haunches heavy
Veterans of the autumn brawls of many years

They enact the understood rituals of threat
Send signals of dominance, await submission
This has worked among themselves forever
In the sparring, none got hurt, usually not

But now, nothing is enough for respect
Not the bellow, the big beard, the big arms
Not the waved flag, the holstered sidearm
Not even the AR-15 - nothing is enough

So there will be trouble - how not?
Baffled by the strangers in their way
Hearing only challenge in the voices raised
They lower their heavy heads and, blindly, charge

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.