German Hunting Party

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In Rumpelstilzkin hats and ten-league boots,

Their chunky bodies clad in mossy loden,

The barrels of their shotguns safely open,

The hunters gather for the morning’s shoot

As late arrivals turn up in Mercedes,

Get out their dogs and cartridge-belts and horns

And join the main group on the inn’s front lawn,

Where all the talk is pension plans and rabies.

On such a splendid morning, there’s no hurry:

Only the silky gun-dogs chew their leads

And sniff their masters’ legs, as if to plead

The nearness and the farness of the quarry.

The hunters watch the sky and talk their fill.

A minute’s wait will not affect the kill.


by Jonathan Steffen

First published in The New Statesman, 27 March 1987; republished in St. Francis in the Slaughter-House and other poems, Falcon Editions, 2006