I cough into the night
& a deer snorts in alarm.
I am hungry & dangerous;
small bones & bits of muscle
get stuck in my throat.
My feline love of comfort
may dull my instincts, but
I still read fear as a form of praise.
And I want to tell the deer:
I am the animal who rid
these hills of your original killers.
Shall we resent each other’s part
in the conquest? We share
almost the pact between
a pastoralist & his herd.
The tamed woods are as easy
to walk through as a pasture now;
few thickets remain where a big cat
could lie in ambush.
But a summer night still teems
with things that rasp & tick,
other things that flash at eye-level
& in between, the dark milk of stars.


This was an exercise using all the words in the latest prompt from Big Tent Poetry.

(Update) Other responses to the prompt are here

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. Oh, I like this a lot. I still read fear as a form of praise — that’s a wonderful line.


  2. I immediately thought that you had a reintroduced panther in your hollow. But no. It’s only me.

    Glad you took the words.


    1. I guess you know my fantasies, don’t you? Thanks for the prompt.


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