Foxtails travel. Dogs shake their heads.
This could be the sign of the hitchhiker
traveling toward a burrow in their brain.
It does happen. Foxtails travel in unexpected ways.
Foxtails travel in families: timothy cheatgrass; barley;
downy brome, their tails featherlike
stroked forward, fanged stroked backward.
Their seed awns barbed, foxtails hitch rides,
sneaking into a boot or running shoe,
from there slipping into a sock.
Say—irritating not harmful—to the hiker
and he replies with barbed words, expletives,
the day changed that started with one simple rule:
no complaining in nature. Foxtails travel.
Bring band-aids: foxtails travel.
Your dog may have a more serious complaint.

Dave Seter is the author of Don’t Sing to Me of Electric Fences (Cherry Grove Collections) and Night Duty (Main Street Rag). He earned his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Princeton University and graduate degree in humanities from Dominican University of California. More at: