I See Their Bones
Coasting easily down the long rain shadow slant
of the mighty Rockies, toward the rising sun,
the endless eroded wasteland seems to pant
for rain. Bygone buffalo chips, their decay done,
still tease arrogant clumps of sagebrush to defy
thirst. In this barren land, millions of bisons fed,
lodged and heated the affluent and grateful Cheyenne
and Sioux citizens of their beloved meadow-
land nation. They saw no need to tap the less
fertile lower layers of furtive mineral prize.
Vast rivers from ancient melted glaciers coyly
seep toward nirvana. Ancient flora carbonize
wait for rebirth as smoke and cinders. Oily
graves of corpulent cadavers coalesce
to black gold, waiting to belch a deadly oxide
for a greedy, mechanized world. These blessings
bode beneath the barren bushes but bastioned hide…
Paleface come with buffalo guns on iron trail.
They dug and drilled, fenced and killed, dissecting
the Earth Mother’s belly for her hidden holy grail.
Pied Indians now fight only themselves, neglecting
to thank intruders for bad water, starvation
and decimating small pox. Brave warriors that fought
for their children are as dead as the Indian Nation,
white as bleached bison bones, embalmed by bourbon bought
from the Indian bureau’s temporal padrones.
Beyond the southern sky-edge, the brown Big Horn
sometime floods, exposing bits of Custer’s bones.
Brave and sober Sioux warriors rise up in scorn
from their hidden pyres to ride their dust devil steeds
through sleeping reservations, whooping war chants
to their drunk descendants and resigned half breeds,
timidly afraid to dance when the red man leads.