I was a curious and foolish creature
sniffing around the honeysuckle at dusk.
The porcupine quills have been dispensed and riddle my heart.
I don’t care what the experts say
the women and men who can rattle on about
genus and species, phylum, classes:
the quills were shot at me like arrows from more than fifteen feet away
thrust from an abundant quiver.
Poison mixed with my blood when they penetrated my skin.
When or how they have affected me makes no difference now
Was it before, after? We needn’t argue about it.
I am tentative
If I had a shovel I would stick it into the ground, deep
enough so the metal is scarcely visible
lean against the wooden handle with all my weight
test to see if the wood cracks.
If it does not, I will continue to dig
my own damn grave
perhaps for gold.
You could kill a man with a shovel
bury him and his young family alive. Or,
dig a ditch that would carry what water he needs
to keep him, his family
hydrated and healthy.
The riddle might make you wonder
what you will beat your shovel into
when others beat their swords to plough shares.
There’s a range of common objects designed for a variety of use
that can be modified to inflict and improvise harm.
How much more deadly, then, for you to give me your heart.
If we even start
I’d prefer to negotiate the terms of peace
decide how, if defeated, you will divvy up the spoils
should anything of value remain.
Thus, let us commence our war.
© 2009 Andrew Kooman