Like steel-jawed traps slightly buried
and camouflaged with leaves and grass –
like land mines half-way ‘round the world,
we step around them, waiting
for the old horse or dog on the edge
of suffering, or the crippled cow,
before pulling the necessary trigger.
We cannot pretend we do not see
gophers in the garden, the endless trail
of ants, the rats’ nest – we deal death
as we wait for our own, always hoping
our compassion might outweigh the facts.
Killing is not for old men who have lost
their focus, who cannot pull the blinders up
to eclipse themselves. A man can endure
only so many squeezes, so many crosshairs
before he begins to step around insects
and spiders, avoiding the snakes in the road.