If We

If We

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

for coal

to China

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