CLOSED: bear management in progress

— from a sign on a tree near a bear trap in Ovando, Montana

a night shrouded in
darkness ;

a tent in a town in
wilderness ;

a hungry bear in
his territory ;

who’s to say what
deeds transpired in

what light or voice or
absence suddenly

or late night snack
a crack or a crinkle 
probable cause (?)

from silence,

an argument from
silence will hardly
hold in a court
of law
(we cannot know; therefore it was)

why that grizzly,
that woman, that
town, that tent,
that night 

& the grizzly
is guilty

Lewis and Clark set
in motion your tenuous
fate :
grisley — what’s in a name?
(would that which we call
smell as sweet)

art thou grizzly grizzled grey-
tipped hair 

art thou grisly gruesome
ugly monstrous

& George Ord sealed :
Ursus arctos horribilis

your species is horrible
horrible horrible guilty
guilty guilty

it seemed only logical
to kill the thing who killed
the woman

no trial necessary
no Miranda rights
no justice but

set the trap & lure
a bear — any one
of the myriad who live
there will do — &
ask the questions test
the DNA 

a bear i call you by

Robert McClendon
Ricky Jackson
Laurese Glover
Henry McCollum
Leon Brown
(when will it end?
(in california white
settlers killed them

is still a guilty bear
in the eyes of a white cop
proud boy America

We hold these truths to be self-evident

is a bear’s life
worth less than those of those who killed it
in the eyes of
our Creator

& We hold these truths to be self-evident :

dump the 400 pound
carcass of feral sinew
& bone & spirit behind
the dumpster in the 
empty lot to forget & 
brush it off like
an unfortunate dream
that never happened at 
all ;

or carve out its holy 
insides & glass its eyes
& stuff it with ragged
newspapers & mount
it on the wall as an effigy
to man’s dominance
over the earth & over
itself to burn into Nature’s 
bosom blazing red 
the firmament on fire 
slowly falling in a night
of quiet darkness :

Oh, the humanity

                 Oh, the humanity

                                  Oh, the humanity

I read this story and was overcome by a deep, conflicting sadness — both for the woman who was mauled and for the grizzly who was shot because of it. Neither deserved to die; and what now is the end result? What rights do we give an animal that attacks or kills a human compared with a human who attacks or kills another human? Was there a trial? Was it justified? Federal wildlife agents killed the grizzly that happened to be lured by the trap; it was about the same size as the “culpable” one, but as the article states, there are over 1000 grizzlies in the region, and the DNA test is still pending from the bear’s necropsy. In other words, there is no conclusive evidence to prove that the bear killed was the bear that attacked Ms Davis; the DNA test results are not expected until later this week. 

As I began writing, I felt a strong resonance in principle with police brutality in America: how minorities and people of color are often guilty before proven innocent in such encounters, ultimately resulting in further loss of life on both sides. Thus, this poem is an attempt, if but a futile one, to rectify the balance of two lives with our humanity.

Image Credit: Tom Bauer/Missoulian, via Associated Press