Blood freezing even as it spills

I squeezed the trigger
On the Winchester repeater,
Felt the spring of recoil
Like the bounding of a hare.

And the smoke hit the sky,
Like steam rising from a dowsed campfire.
But the deer didn’t mind,
just stood there,
Boasting antlers
like some pagan chandelier.

My friend in the orange vest
Soaked through with red
Minded a bit more,
Shrieking for his mother
until his cry scattered green and brown fowl
from the cover of grey clouds.

Why did you shoot your friend?
Was it a drunken spat?
A quarrel between a cuckold and some interloping
tup-happy buck?
Was the hunt a mere ruse to lure him to the fields?
Or was it
something less sinister?
An accident after you both crushed two cases
of blue & gold aluminum cans flat,
Beer foam mixing with blood
Freezing even as it spilled?
“Why” does not matter to the trees
As much as to you or me.

Neither is a reply given
By the hoarfrost-stiffened reeds.
Hibernating bears won’t answer
from within the depths of dreams
where amphoras overflow with honey
Like lava spilled from cinder cone seams.

But a man knows how to torture himself,
Like a child posing whys of infinite regress
From the backseat of a station wagon
with a broken air-conditioner.

“Why” may have mattered most to the police,
But the cycle of moss, sun, moon, time, leaves
Buries all things,
Empty enquiries,
The owl that echoes
mother-directed entreaties.

Hell even me…
The rest lays as a feast for the botflies.
And later, when the ammoniac goo dries,
come the shear of diligent beetles
Happily mincing jerked meat
as they go a-pincer ’ing,
leaving mummified last bits
of this bad memory.

I’ll try to weep at the empty casket funeral,
And not mention these strange thoughts of nature’s cycle
During the eulogy.

And on those nights when screams haunt my shack,
Chasing even bats from the yawning dressed stone
of my soot-saddened chimney,
foreshortened intrusion
of most-grey gibbous moon,
I’ll kiss the lips of this X-inscribed
earthenware jug;
think of bears and honey,
Drink until my ears hear only music
And the waters shed by my dreams
Smell more of tomorrow’s moonshine
than yesterday’s salt-spited tears
swimming in cirrhosis-soaked brine.

Tamerlane is in the black Tent

The white tent has been pitched
Behind the wood and iron engines of siege.
And the terms are these:
Surrender and be slaves
Bearing kingly litters across the Khanate
Upon your broken shoulders, while desert sands white as sugar
Mix with your tears.

A week later the tent will be of red silk
And you behind the curtain wall of the castle keep
Will still have terms to meet:
Surrender your men and that may suffice,
Like a pound of flesh given forfeit.
Perchance our ravening eye might be satisfied
By bone palisade, skull pyramid,
Trinkets added to our osseous abacus
(Oh joyous genocide!).
The bloodthirst of this ravening, razor-tooth fundament might finally be slaked
At least for a day
(I cannot speak for the next moon).

In the last week, the tent will be of black cloth, crowned by bombazine baldachin.
Your pleas for mercy will be our music,
Your wives our concubines,
Your babes but noisome nits to be picked clean from our beards.
Your tanned hides will make fine canvas for our yurts,
Your torsos carted to ranges for the honing of our bowmen’s eyes.
So pour your pitch, fill & empty quivers from your crenellations.
But your walls will be scaled.
And then no quarter, dawn, or god will ever find you again.