Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tiger

Mason was the first to go. They said
a tiger found him walking down the trail
behind his house.
Then, after he was dead,

Bundy moved into town. His courage failed,
he told me, sitting sweating at the bar.
"The jungle's just... so big. And I feel frail."

He meant to hide among the crowds, the cars,
the man-made smells of sewage, gasoline
from eyes that watched, implacable as stars.

The city noise, the clamor of machines,
he hoped would deafen predatory ears.
But tiger senses must have been too keen

to be defeated. Bundy met his fears
just two blocks from a busy liquor store.
No-one saw what happened.
All these years,

we never talked about the way it was before:
the tiger cub, the stake and chain, the gin,
the entertainment of the vicious, bored,

young men we were. We knew it was a sin,
but never guessed at fatal consequence,
avenging angel dressed in tiger-skin.


I'm not a fool, to doubt the evidence,
the tiger tracks round Bundy's bloodstained corpse--
though older hands, the more experienced

would tell me that my intuition's warped:
"It's twenty years now-- animals forget
and tigers don't come into town." Remorse

and fear in equal parts are what have set
my feet upon this deck. I'll be secure
and happy, once this scow-barge gets

me clear of harbor!
What's that, on the shore?
What's moving in the sea, to leave that wake
of moonlight ripples?
Let there be no more

pretense; the tiger comes aboard to take
what he is owed, and I go willingly
for he is beautiful enough to break
a heart once cracked by its own cruelty.

9 comments:

aka Danny Wise said...

Looks like there's no escaping from that tiger!

tumblewords said...

I wish my words were capable of the praise this work deserves. Astounding piece!

sister AE said...

I like the way the rhyme helps move this forward. And how somehow the ending is inevitable.

Holly Mac said...

This is tremendous. I especially love the last stanza. Great work.

sbpoet said...

Wow. A new-fashioned old-fashioned ghost-story poem.

Very nice indeed.

Chills.

Linda said...

You know something? I didn't even notice the rhyme the first time I reead this poem! That's how good it is! Not once did you sacrifice meaning for rhyme. A pleasure!

Crafty Green Poet said...

a sobering morality tale, beautifully written

...deb said...

Goodness, Tiel. I don't think this could be any better. Brilliant work. The last line is perfect.

Dennis said...

Tiel:

Your writing is just absoultely beautiful and amazing. Always a treat to read your poetry. This is just a beautiful poem.