Daily Archives: May 10, 2022

Whatever You Do

whatever you do
don’t stumble

they’re listening
for that

if they sense
weakness — oh

none of it makes sense

in any human way
unless you think

predator in place of 

whatever you do
don’t be you out loud

messy you tripping 
exuberantly through

what should be safe
except they are there

listening and claiming
you — shhhhhhhh

don’t even breathe
they sit there gills out

in shallow water or
perched in crooked trees

with ears open
with claws for the likes of you

you know better — don’t have to do

a damned thing to be prey
except exist out loud and 

maybe stumble or not but
it’s what they do

the men in the water or trees
that’s what they do

The Barbarians

Don’t ask how it happened 
that they were raiders by birth 
or education — it’s not worth
the effort to understand it now,
this late in the game. Enough to say
they were raised and whipped
to be descendants of such people
and such ancient habits, once ingrained, 
are the hardest to kill. Somehow 
their homes are still castles
in their eyes, no matter how flimsy;
to them their big windows up front
are still the mouths of cave shelters, 
no matter how shallow they’ve made
the space behind them, the rooms 
where they live.

Most of us out here in the fields below
are targets, serfs, or lackeys; no exceptions.
It’s been folly to bet against them for so long
we fall in as rigidly as they do to our roles —
or we have for generations now. Sometimes
we stir and wonder about how this all happened
but once again, what matters more is how swiftly 
today can become tomorrow, how they seem now
to quiver for real at last as they look out upon us
from the caves they cannot help but call home:
the aging holes, the sagging walls, the coming
of a storm or a war they will not admit
is theirs to forestall.