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by Clint Bowman




We ate lunch above a bear den
on a mossy crag that jutted out
from the mountain’s gut.

Snow covered the understory
of laurel and tangled briar—
we could barely see the entrance.

I threw a rock over the precipice,
and we heard a deep drowsy growl.

Her babies came out
and climbed up a tree—

they stained the snow
with blossoms
from last week’s false spring. 

We heard a loud crunch
and stepped away from the edge.

Fists clenched to bear spray,
we watched the mountain
release its momma.

Majestically lethargic,
she looked down—
tired and annoyed
by tiny trespassers
that buzz about
these mountains
like mosquitos
struggling to find their worth.



A raccoon wouldn’t get out
of the road today.

After three cars
blared their horns,
he walked down
my driveway.

He sat on the hot asphalt
and stared directly at the sun.

I called Ronnie
from across the street,
and he said,
“I’ll take care of it,
but I need your permission—
it's your property.”

He came over in his pickup
and parked beside
the mangy ball of fur
foaming at the mouth.

Ronnie walked around
the passenger side
and pulled out his shotgun.

I looked away,
then felt the muffled shot
rattle my foundation. 

I looked back and saw Ronnie
throw a black trash bag
into the bed of his truck—
he gave a thumbs up,
then left as though
nothing happened.

The next day,
I walked out
to get the paper
and saw the abstract painting
on the asphalt.  

I stood over it a moment,
then heard a distant shot
echo from the woods
behind Ronnie’s house.
As birds scattered
to the sky,
I looked up

and stared
directly at the sun.

* * *

Clint Bowman is a writer from Black Mountain, North Carolina. His debut collection of poetry, Pretty Sh!t, was published in May of 2023 by Bottlecap Press. His forthcoming full-length collection, If Lost, will be published in the fall of 2024 by Loblolly Press. Clint is the co-founder and lead facilitator of the Dark City Poets Society, a free poetry group based out of the Black Mountain Library. Clint’s poetry has appeared in Louisiana Literature, Poetry South, Roanoke Review, and JMWW.


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