Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021


by Pepper Trail

In this photo provided by Adam Messer is a gray wolf, a member of the Nez Perce pack, seen north of Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., on March 31, 2002. Wolf hunting policies in some U.S. states are taking an aggressive turn as Republican lawmakers and conservative hunting groups push to curb their numbers. Antipathy toward wolves for killing livestock and big game dates to when early European immigrants settled the American West in the 1800s. (Adam Messer via AP)

Wolf takes one step, one step wrong. The jaws of the trap snap.
Oh great Aldo, Dr. Leopold, what would you say
to the "Hunter Nation," these men of your beloved state 
who went to court to secure those days of death?
Your words are there to read in "Thinking Like a Mountain"—  
how you mourned the wolf killing that you did, 
mourned the fierce green fire dying in her eyes.
Young then, and full of trigger-itch, you came at last
to hear the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf,
to see that wildness is the salvation of the world.
You grew up, but not all men do.
You lived to see, too clear, the wilderness gone,
the waiting swarms of deer, the disease of appetite.
You taught the good that wolves do, that hunters can share,
but too few learned.  Two hundred wolves dead is not hunt,
but slaughter, the most savage and ignorant delight.

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.