What Was Missing



I came into the barn

to tell what was missing

hanging on an angular frame

its latches loose

the door opened onto

far meadows pristine yielding

to the sun owls hooted and I saw

fear in the horses

when the bobcat approached

I saw bales of hay gathered in rows

perfect cubes before the leaves fell

but that was not what was missing


This vicious cycle of feeding and watering

fattening and slaughtering sickens my view

here death reigns like a drunken tyrant

spewing orders so cruel even

the languid vultures revolt

what is missing is the spirit

of resistance the no to absurdity

the yes to human nature’s

demands for justice meted out

in shotgun shells whisky and taut fence wire

I have written elsewhere of love and its charms

but love turns and turns too fragile

for the hands of the herdsman

too unforgiving of the rope tightened

around the stumbling calf’s neck


In the barn what was missing followed me

to the loft and through the stalls tools shining

from careful use lasting into winter’s vortex

passing into spring when life baptizes

the earth fecundity dripping from branches

like snakes in a jungle to mate to reproduce

this is the secret of the cattle and fowl

what is missing is the confession of offspring

proclaiming belief in the mystery of giving

and being given shadows swallowed my view

a pink glow crowned the meadows

the sun bowed and all light was precious

its origin missing this I could tell

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