Among animals who avoid danger
humans do not rank first,
we who in the Middle Ages killed
twelve percent of our earthly population,
who teach our young to look
both ways, avoid dark narrow alleys
and open spaces, shelter in place.
Long ago we painted on cave walls
the tusked mammoth, quick horse,
identified ourselves among them—
bones, sinew, hide, hair.
Now wary of crowded places
as they feared dusk on the savanna,
we are still kin to the antelope
on the plain we hunt no longer,
wolf at the fence line, child
in the bus lane. We who know
too well the risk of fists,
fear knives, bullets, deadly force
tight-lock our hearts and doors.
Keep a Glock in the drawer.
We evolved to avoid the hurt,
the foot caught in the iron trap, yet
bomb city streets, shoot high-powered
guns in churches, concerts, schools,
strange predation biologists puzzle,
murderous and exceptional.
Able Muse Write Prize for Poetry, 2019 ▪ Finalist