Win Bassett. Only You Can Prevent Nothing.

2 Nov


Each time I see the pointing bear
peering from under his hat on the hopeless poster,
I want to punch him in the face

like the one boy did to the black bear
that stormed into his tent in Cimarron,
in the summer of ‘01.

We heard about the attack
while we ignored the dew the next morning
and boiled water in the campsite
just over the ridge.

They said the other boy in the tent was sick,
and his throwup bag lured the beast
to his tent overnight
like a Bluetick on a blasé scent.

They said the unsick boy punched the bear
in the face, and the animal
turned to the ailing one,
dragged him out of his tent,
and tore him up.

My buddy Hill wasn’t afraid of bears,
but I didn’t sleep in our tent
for a good portion of the ten days in New Mexico
after they told us, before setting out,
that the fires had left the bears
without food.

I made sure not a scent existed
outside our bear bags
hung high and far each night.
Before we bedded down for the evenings,
I made sure everyone hung up their toothpaste.
I bet those boys did the same,
but they forgot about the throwup.

Bears wouldn’t mess
with a judge’s son, I thought.
Hill wouldn’t get into any trouble, of any kind,
and that’s why I asked him
to tent with me
several months out.

I was right
until the very thing that hurt the bears
that summer of ‘01
hurt Hill two and a half years
down the road.

I heard about the fire while I
walked out of a class
during the first week
of my second year at State College.

They said Hill hadn’t been found,
and no one had seen him
since the party last night.

They said it must have started
in the early morning hours,
and no one knew how.

Hill wasn’t afraid of fires,
but I didn’t sleep until after I wept,
I mean bawled,
in the church that sat in the town
where my parents and the judge still lived.

They said rangers killed the bear
the week after it attacked those boys.

Fire wasn’t afraid of bears or Hill.
That’s what the Poster doesn’t say.

2 Responses to “Win Bassett. Only You Can Prevent Nothing.”

  1. Wanda Winn November 5, 2014 at 03:22 #

    Sweet and sad and well written!!!


  1. the top 15 most-read posts | pea river journal - October 1, 2016

    […] Win Bassett’s poem Only You Can Prevent Nothing […]

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