publishing poetry only

Monday's Poem

© 2010 David Fraser

David Fraser lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island. He is the founder and editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine, since 1997. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including recently, Rocksalt, An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry. He has published three collections of poetry, Going to the Well (2004), Running Down the Wind (2007) and No Way Easy, 2010. To keep out of trouble he helps develop Nanaimo's spoken-word series, WordStorm at

Border Collies

The border collies are knackered now, all day chasing grumpy sheep.
They slink behind the rocks, peek heads up, avoid the work.
They do not know the blood that seeps through the muck of runoff.
It flows into the glen.
These dogs are young, born to the obsession of their craft.
They do not know the burning but'n'bens, thatched roofs ablaze, bodies fueling fire.
They know the present only.
Not the past.
Not the baggage of this history.
Not the highland cattle's red fur scorched and curled.

There are muddy hooves that jut into the air. There are gutted bellies.
Sheep in rotting piles. A stench. There is raw-rooted anger.
There are men and women torn and numb.

Sheep dogs, still in the here and now, raise their heads above the crags.
They know they need to work, bend the sheep with come-bye's and away's.
Steady. Steady. Not like revenge.
Take your time. Take your time, until the last lambs are safely down,
clumped together, moving in a mass toward their pens.
The dog's tongues flop from their mouths. They're knackered.
Eyes alert. Just a stare to move the herd.
These dogs know not the moments of betrayal. Slaughter points on maps.
The clearances.
They know a day's good work, a job well done, some food.
They know quiet corners with openings where they can watch their sheep.