Things Certain

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

from The Gods of the Copybook Headings ~ Rudyard Kipling


The following poem was inspired by Jack London’s short story, The Law of Life. As I read it, I could not help but draw a parallel between the death of the old indian, Koskoosh, to the state of—possibly the dying of—our country.

Things Certain


The fire fluttered, snapping weakly

Fitting, she thought

Sitting on the frozen ground

Legs crossed beneath her


Her sight all but gone

Blurry images… trees… the pack

Lurking at the edge of the dark forest

Waiting… for her to die


They had left her here

As they had journeyed to the south

Seeking… always seeking

A perfect world


It is time… they had told her

You have lived a good life

We will carry you in our hearts

For a while


Then… life will go on

Different, though somehow the same

For… much like your dying

The changes have come slowly


She saw the pack… only a few at first

Edging closer… growing bolder

As the fire burned down

She thought to feed the flames… but did not


For she knew in her heart… it was time

When she was strong

When she was strong

And as they moved in for the kill

She bowed her head

And thought of when she was strong


 A cold muzzle touched her cheek

And for a moment… in her mind

She raged and fought the beast

And then it was over


Copyright © 2013 C Mashburn


Posting this on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open link Night #101 this afternoon.


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    chilling . . . powerful write, Charlie.

  2. claudia said

    oh heck charles…you paint a dark picture indeed..i’m glad she didn’t give up without fighting – as long as we fight, there’s still hope…

  3. Myrna said

    So vivid it goes straight to one’s fear of death, and one’s hope of resignation when the time comes. Has the time come for our country? I hope not yet.

  4. reminds me a little of the end of legends of the fall…how he finds that bear and has one last round with it….hey if its my turn to go…leave me to the wolves…i will take one last round…smiles…love this charles…

  5. viv blake said

    Heart-rending, yet I sensed the inevitability of it.

  6. “The fire fluttered, snapping weakly…” really set the chill in the air for me. Powerful story, powerful tell.

  7. hypercryptical said

    I agree, a chilling write Charles. How terrible it must have been knowing that you would die such a death…
    Anna :o]

  8. Truedessa said

    wow..mystical feel to this one..had me on the edge of my seat..nicely done..

  9. Quite vivid. I like it very much.

  10. Mama Zen said

    This is beautiful, powerful writing.

  11. SSMatthews said

    Excellent work Charles! Felt as though I was standing there watching!

  12. “We will carry you in our hearts

    For a while” –

    but! in her soul she never gave up, wow, so powerful charles! so brave, you brought it clear, thanks so much 🙂

  13. Reblogged this on Marbles In My Pocket ~ The Official Blog of Charles L. Mashburn ~ Poems, Short Stories, and random thoughts from the author of "Be Still… and know that I am God" and commented:

    I used to think it was funny when our English lit teacher, Miss Chapman, would try to get us to figure out what a poet was saying–what might be hidden in his words. I always thought the words a poet wrote meant exactly, and only, what they said.Well… I reckon I might’ve been wrong.

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