. Reality Check __The bars we frequent have been raised too high, Not calibrated to the greatest common factor: __The will to let things slide. Who can deny This, save for someone who is such a polished actor __That he or she can lie without a quiver Of lip or chin? It’s one thing being shit-face drunk, __But driving innocents into a river Is something else again. The station wagon sunk __In seconds, disappearing out of sight Before our very eyes. The air was turning chilly __As day gave way before the coming night; Attempts to counter gravity seemed just as silly __As rafts of fresh complaints from wealthy tourists Intent on staking out a new vacation spot, __Who hire the services of able jurists When short of level banks on which to pitch a cot. __And meanwhile, water filled the straining lungs Of victims much too young to vote or ever matter, __Frail climbers on survival’s bottom rungs. If sink or swim’s the only choice, let’s choose the latter. . . The Hunt The hounds are at my heels—so close, I feel their breath condensing on my woolen socks, the very ones she gave to me. I’d kneel to pray, except that flinty broken rocks lie underfoot. She didn’t mean for me to run, but nonetheless her thoughtful gift ensured there’d be that possibility, and I would thank her now but for the rift that out of nowhere opened up between us and sent me running off into the night, Oh, look! The evening star ahead is Venus, I’m pretty sure, and what a winsome sight the goddess is, despite the raft of trouble incited by the steam of sudden love, a love now ruptured like a floating bubble too frail to stand the lash of twigs above the playground. Hounds don’t mind a bit of mud; it makes the trailing simpler. Neither do they shy from danger or the scent of blood: While puppies being trained to hunt, they grew quite fond of primal triggers set to spur adrenaline. Though I could say the same for me, how different it must be for her, the woman poised to share my family name. I tell myself again, lest I forget it: schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley, as true tonight as when that Scot first said it long ago. To keep the hounds at bay is not the hardest task. More difficult by far is facing wolves that lie in wait ahead, disposed to mount a swift assault on curs who've let themselves tergiversate. And yes, I know how easy it will be for them to slay me when I finally say, “And now I lay me down to sleep ….” My plea, with luck, should buy me time to slip away. . . C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.