somewhere in the woods in germany

he finds himself half-submerged

in smoky water, frigid, his boots

touching the slippery rocks along the riverbed,

heavy shuddering arms held above his head,

a dirty rifle in his hand,

a thousand thoughts in his head,

the fading grasp of his lover's face in his head,

the incessant buzzing in his head,

in his right ear,

he'll be seventy-two

and that buzzing will still be there

unless he goes deaf

or cuts out his own ear

or somehow dies

before he turns seventy-two.

ahead is wilderness, there is never

a place here that is not wilderness,

even the cities are bombed out

ivy-laden husks ready to be inhabited

by hermit crab refugees.

ahead is wilderness,

ahead is the dying notion of what's right,

(he remembers to change his socks

when he gets out, or just take his socks off,

take his shoes off, dry them somewhere,

he remembers kowalski's feet, the

agonizing holes bored into them by the

simple act of erosion. he thinks about it now.

he wishes he could take his socks off now.)

the empty crawl towards some definition of freedom.

things that do not need to be defined

but are. things that do not exist in nature

but fundamentally do, this concept of living

without fear, without want, living in happiness.

is the warthog happy before it is slaughtered

by the proud lioness? (why are they called

king of the jungle, they don't even

live in the jungle. then again, the queen

never visited india when she owned it.)

ahead is wilderness. a tentative step

onto dry soil, testing his footing, testing

the effects of hours of submerged feet.

behind him is infantry. ahead is wilderness.