by Gary Lawless

Treat each bear as the last bear.
Each wolf the last, each caribou.
Each track the last track.
Gone spoor, gone scat.
There are no more deertrails,
no more flyways.
Treat each animal as sacred,
each minute our last.
Ghost hooves. Ghost skulls.
Death rattles and
dry bones.
Each bear walking alone
in warm night air.

SOURCE: The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, Edited by Karla Linn Merrifield and Roger M. Weir (Foothills Publishing, 2006), available at

IMAGE: “Black Bear, Maine” by Mark Silk. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Lawless lives the literary life — literally surrounded by books in his Gulf of Maine bookstore. He also runs a small press and teaches poetry to underserved populations, including recent immigrants and Iraq War veterans. The environment looms large as a theme in his poems – the natural world is sacred. Animals of the world are populations, cultures, and beings as much as we are. Gary Snyder, Ted Enslin, and James Kohler are his mentors. His poetry collections include Poems for the Wild Earth (1994), Caribouddihism (1998), In Ruins (2002), and Behind the Wall (2005).