Elegy for My Empire, Poetry

The Sheep of Little Mountain (poem)

In spring when I was a child,
a red dog barked every day on Little Mountain
where insubordinate sheep swore back at him
and also the shepherd—
their bells clanging against the epithets

The shepherd, hot and blasé about it
by mid-afternoon,
sat in the shade of his trailer
eating cheese and day old bread
he shared with the dog
but not with the foul-mouthed sheep—

that don’t come anymore,
the barking and swearing replaced
with gunshots
and drunk singing
and the chop of ghetto bird blades
echoing against the dead yellow slopes.