Poems by Dan MacIsaac

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photo by M.C. MacIsaac

Chilcotin Wild Horses

by Dan MacIsaac

From Canary Winter 2013-14

Dan lives and writes in a home overlooking Witty's Lagoon on Vancouver Island.

They died off
in the last Ice Age.
And for a century
of centuries
only the wild grass

Broomtails blunt-toothed
and rough-hoofed,
a cayuse herd
stole back, cross-bred
from buffalo runners
and a claim-jumperís plug.

Native flesh, foaled
from lean Andalusians
shipwrecked in America,
and drawn north
across sierra spine
and salt lake.

Now from pine scrub
to parched grassland,
the free herd thunders,
hides scarred
by snag and thorn,
not spurs.

Hoof beats echo,
rattling in
the dead throat
of a volcano,
ringing in
a vast crevasse.

Scoured again
by colossal ice
or scorched by
seismic fire,
the Chilcotin
turns barren.

Wild planets
wheel, gyre,
stampede --
first horses
again on that plain
of hurtling starlight.

Giant Pandas

by Dan MacIsaac

From Canary Spring 2014

Ailuropolda melanoleuca

These are contrary creatures,
carnivores evolved to live on shoots,
bearcats that the Ming Chinese
believed ate copper cooking pots.
Bulky as beer kegs,
they must slip each hemp-line snare
then dodge each hunterís blind,
becoming addled blurs
to the snakeheadís eye.

Jailbirds, blackpatched
lifers hostage
to the flowering
of bamboo,
under house arrest
they pace, tagged
and monitored,
kept to high ground
by slash and burn.

Tinged snowdrift
and deep treeshade,
they just blend in,
knowing their place.
Shy cousins
to burly cave bears
they slink through Time,
discrete and buttoned-down
as butlers.

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