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Beyond the sloping wooded hills, faster than the rain we were,
warriors raging below glowing skies,
that slippery ascent our fight. Return now to that combat,
run the muddy trails of my childhood
with me at your side.

Tracks of rainwater dodge the rocks, create the flowing rivers
of tan and black, that leaf-speckled surface
pours into least-resistant paths. Jump those streams and wade those pools,
collect the mud upon your shins and brow,
start that upward sprint.

As claw marks groove the sap-drenched trunks, with spirits thick with zeal,
battle the downward pouring hilltops and
lose yourself in that breathless climb. Water dripping in your mouth,
tasting of fresh earth and smelling of hound,
challenging your strength.

Forward, keep your knees from sinking, disappearing in the flood.
Ignore the growth of weight as clinging mud
strives to drag you to the bottom, where we’d once begun our race.
Far away, the calls distant to our ears,
but oh so tempting.

Relax and you’ll descend to them, all that distance eaten up
by a single thought of careless disregard.
You’d let it guide your hopes and dreams, that powerful emotion,
that fear, stronger than your resolution,
leading to your fall.

We’re there though, pack and litter mate, to bolster one another,
dragging your mind from that seductive edge,
though for reprieve you muscles beg. This track, never twice the same,
remembers not that loss of faith you held,
smoothing in your wake.

Our packs leap ever-shifting mud, their playful barks spur us on,
faster, fiercer, through the sliding mire.
That mountain in my memory, that beast of earth’s creation
is swallowed by our sinking footsteps while
my hound hits that crest.

Water sprays as he shakes and twists, thrown sideways through the rain.
Mix of sweat, sweet rain and loamy soil,
it splatters wide and hits the pack, sharpened pup teeth piercing deep,
bites of pain that streak the swirling mud like
storms against my skin.

And then, those last few lengths we take, past that highest lofty bend,
we see no footprints mark that untouched peak.
As always when your knees hit ground, your side burns, but does not die.
The wind tugs your dirt-drenched hair while we share
exhilarated grins.

Up there above that last steep leg, howls erupting from our throats,
rain coursing down our clay-marred arms, thrown wide,
we see our world transformed, rebirthed, a needed muddy cleansing,
reminding us the earth ceases never,
not for any dog.

This poem is a teaser for The Wilds Duology,
on pre-order now for only .99