“Birth Cave” by Terry Tierney

Shaman paints the wolf

and full moon blister red 

above a sinuous line of orange scales, 

serpent tail pointing to the past, 

head spitting a speckled frog

half digested, white eyes lifeless.

One more sweep of horsetail brush

and they wink awake–one more  

chance to escape–legless 

mind ascends in sparks.

Wolf sniffs the new stars,   

remembers all wolves 

as a child knows its mother,

curling mouth to tail, 

warm den moist and rich 

denying the dark worm of night.

Outside branches claw 

thin veins in crusts of snow,

frozen rivulets of glacier blood,

the red net of moonlight

eclipsed by the heart of earth

beating in its rib-cave of wind.

Brush extends, tail

soft and slick with paint,

tongue licking the edge

of my mouth. Yellow eyes 

stare at the burning hole, 

my lungs explode.


Terry’s collection of poetry, The Poet’s Garage, will be published by Unsolicited Press in May 2020. His poems and stories have recently appeared in Typishly, The Mantle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Front Porch Review, Jersey Devil Press, The Lake and other publications. Lucky Ride (Unsolicited Press), an irreverent Vietnam-era road novel, is set to release in 2022. His website is https://terrytierney.com.

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