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Camping in Cheaha State Park
by Frederick W. Bassett

Chugging out of town on the old bus,
I couldn't wait to stand on Cheaha Mountain
soaking up the wide view
from the highest point in Alabama.
But who knows when a tire will blow out?
There was only an afterglow of the sun,
when the Scoutmaster parks at the campsite.

All was well until the rowdy tenderfoot boys
woke me in the middle of the night,
hooting like owls as they rebuilt the fire.
One challenge led to another,
until I was a fox fleeing
a pack of howling hounds.
I zigged and zagged through the dark forest,
until I was running free.
Proud of the sly fox within me,
I sat down with my back to a tree
and imagined my triumphant return.

You're lost, something throbbed in my head,
as I thrashed through the darkness.
Not ready to concede and cry out for help,
I change course but to no avail.
Panicking, I climbed to the top of a tall tree,
hoping to see the light of the campfire.
Nothing but darkness everywhere.
Aground again and double-timing,
I slammed into a barbed-wire fence‐
the top strand cutting my throat.
My fingers felt the blood from the long gash.
I yelled and yelled for help, assuming
the whole troop was out searching for me.

Turned back by the barbed-wire fence,
I finally found my way to camp,
where everyone (from the Scoutmaster
to the youngest tenderfoot) was fast asleep
as if no one had been missing.

Previously published in Mountain High (Old Mountain Press, 2008)


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