Mountain Elder

Blunt almond hoof prints, pine bark
rubbed smooth to bleed sap on bristle,
scat clusters glistening in shade

like raw onyx, fresh hog gut luster
of protease, mucosa and villi,
heat glow left from acorn, wild

yam, chickweed, blackberry root
fermented for sugar to stoke
horned snout. Not native. Feral.

Scent-wise to men’s hands on traps,
dog musk wound between trees,
razor hide-helmeted brain mapping

hollow and ridge line acre by acre.
Five hundred years since ancestors
escaped DeSoto, armor-skinned,

taking their refuge in bottomland,
thicket, Blue Ridge hollow and cave.
No sounder here. No piglet or sow

nest—just one aged male, obeying
commandments from belly and mouth,
scouring his Sinai or Israel.

Robert Lee Kendrick lives in Clemson, SC. He has previously published, or has work forthcoming, in Tar River Poetry, Xavier Review, Louisiana Literature, South Carolina Review, The Cape Rock, and elsewhere. His chapbook, Winter Skin, was released in 2016 by Main Street Rag Publishing. He can be found online at