I believe I saw a black panther
leaping across a railroad track
in shimmer hot sunlight
a quarter-mile ahead of me.
The railbed, splitting thick forest,
blinkered my vision to an instant.
My companion, looking elsewhere,
said it must have been a bear.
I insisted I knew what I had seen,
and jogged up to search the spot.
Thinking back a reckless act,
but whatever crossed had disappeared.
There are legends and reports
that an ebony creature travels
the woods of maritime Canada,
often scoffed at, never proved.
Cougars again hunt the region,
but black cats are campfire tales.
The grace in that flickered leap
didn’t belong to a shambling bear
and I refuse to deny the presence
of a creature so rare and poised,
who roams the deep woods,
and lurks just beyond my sight.
Knowing my Limits
Being a man of low and indiscriminate taste,
there’s little I wouldn’t do or haven’t done.
I’ve eaten chicken claws and whole tiny birds,
seal flippers and cod tongues and sea slugs,
dog and squirrel, all cow parts and possibly rat.
I’ve read literary and prurient porn,
comics and classics and quitch,
doggerel and the divine in three languages.
Shot geese and turkeys, pheasants and pigeons,
hooked salmon and trout, stripers and blues,
not sure about man, but not ruling it out.
I’ve lied and cheated, bribed and swindled
seduced and traduced, ignored and abandoned
mostly in the name of a greater good.
But I will not, ever, never, on threat to my soul
write greetings for Hallmark cards.
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over two hundred fifty stories and poems published so far, and five books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors.