We’re celebrated as pure, like the Virgin,
though half of us are males and love
the filthy thrusting as much as any creature,
maybe more, since our time in Arthur’s kingdom
is almost done, our numbers dwindling
like leaves twirling down in winters of hoof-
scraping-beneath-the-snow for spikes of grass.

So some have settled for females bereft
of our sacred tusks, though I’ve abstained,
still grieving the slaughter of my Griselda.

Queen Guinevere desires one of us as her pet,
caged in a garden with flower-bordered fences
too high and strong to bound over or smash through.
But Arthur thankfully commands we were born
to live free and wild, though death seems to claim us
these sad days: too many packs of wolves famished
for our flesh, and though we impale attackers,
always, more snarling fangs beyond counting.

Even worse, evil men covet our tusks to grind up
for cures for every malady, especially the one
that renders men silent, sullen, dangerous
when their mates laugh at their skimpy pizzles.

I lost my darling Griselda to one of those brutes,
why I attack every drunken traveler who invades
my forest, but no matter how many I leave dead,
my dear will never return to me. My one hope,

we’ll cavort someday, in Paradise.

Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is REEFER MADNESS (Aldrich Press). Forthcoming from Apprentice House is GO PLAY OUTSIDE, and from FutureCycle Press, BEARING THE BODY OF HECTOR HOME.