The Ode of the Black Howler
The young man lay alone at night,
His head against a root.
His nose was frosty with the snow
His face was black with soot.
But he was warm, he swore, he swore,
Before the howl made at his foot, the howling at his foot.
Still in his dreams the scream rebounds
To cut off hope for all escape
The black-heart phantom of the sounds
The teeth that bite, the claws that scrape
The forest warmed, he swore, he swore,
to ravage in the wild landscape, the ravenous landscape.
But it was not a dream that night
That shook the lonely Ozark camp
No dream it was to rip at flesh
No dream to leave its wicked stamp
Our fathers quail, Grandfathers’ tales
would warn us not to make a camp,
where blackened oak and bracken meet
In places that are old and damp, in places that are damp.
The young man lay again at night,
His ear against the ground.
Returned once more to face the beast
While darkness gathered round.
Against the pounding of his heart,
He strained to hear the sound again, he strained to hear the sound.