Monday, May 11, 2015

South Dakota

white folks ‘n’ th’pine ridge sioux
hope t’work on th’strained relations –
cigarette ‘n th’hot breeze

sure there’re guns in th’car,
says th’pine ridge sioux, ‘n’ they’ll stay there –
fireworks off in th’night

busted transmission
on hot deserted two-lane
just outside of faith

rank and sticky fourth,
amoco in kadoka -
sick on bathroom floor

grew up ‘n kadoka,
got this job at th’gas station,
now she has t’work th’fourth

clear sky, badlands wind –
he’d be flying down the road
but for th’transmission

trailer near th’pine ridge,
th’biracial kids play in th’dust
she, too, heard th’gun shots

they're loud but love to
talk harleys - time they get here,
almost to sturgis

romance ‘t th’corn palace
like all th’tourists, she just stopped
for something to do

jefferson’s shadow,
th’photographer’s obsession –
he buys sunburn salve

almost killed on th’rocks –
he tried t’get th’best shot ‘f lincoln,
but carried too much

those three on th'harleys,
forgot t’pay for what they took –
three less at sturgis


sturgis-bound bikers
dwarfed by th’semis ‘n th’interstate,
foot-long beards caught ‘n th’breeze

clear, hot sun, sacred
black hills - just 'cause there's walmart
now, doesn't change that


buffalo ‘n’ th’pronghorns –
tourists’re busy down ‘n wind cave,
‘n’ they see ‘nother day

pastor heads for huron -
save souls at state fair - carney's
as good as any

state fair at huron
near th’waffle stand, th’pastor tries
t’preach gospel t’ th’carnies

funnel cakes ‘t huron
th’pastor watches th’ferris wheel
‘n’ questions his mission


afternoon ‘t th’bird cage
th’tourist ‘t th’minor league baseball,
doesn’t quite get th’pace

wounded knee tourist
he feels th’sense ‘f injustice
always close at hand

deadwood gambler's tale -
brought his whole life to sturgis,
lost it all 'n a bet

her shelter helps th’wom’n
came t’sturgis on th’back ‘f a hog –
victims ‘f alcohol

hundreds ‘f thousands ‘f men
love their harleys ‘n’ their beer – she’s
‘cross from th’broken spoke

domestic vi’lence –
sturgis, ‘n august, far from home,
it’s just violence

fury ‘n’ th’pine ridge dust
they’d rather stay in th’car, its trunk
still holds all their guns

shade of moving van,
parched grass crackles at his touch -
"yonder's wounded knee"

"blew up this mountain
t'have something for license plates"...
warm wind, lincoln's gaze

steady wind from west
prairie grasses gone to seed
buffalo road sign

august near custer
he still looks for crazy horse,
wife looks in th’mirror

a town called igloo
was on this weed patch - but the
white man ran us out

fall river county
back road – prairie goes to seed,
out there, th’town ‘f igloo

first frost, ruins ‘f igloo
took th’sioux land, he says, used these huts
t’store th’ammunition


old vet stops ‘t th’sky ranch,
remembers all th’kids th’place saved –
there’s frost on th’stables

eagle soars, pulls him
up into th'shorter days - river
pulls him back t'yankton

rushmore empties out,
rock holds slowly changing trees -
how sacred, this place!

gettysburg to th’west –
stops t’watch th’leaves change, th’quiet town
goes by th’name of faith

last leaves fall on th’road,
prairie’s wide ‘n’ lonely – she tells
why they called th’town ‘faith’

souls’ day in sturgis
th’cross country biker stops f’r th’beer
just t’pay his respects

vermillion exit,
sunrise glows on backpack frame -
hopes for turkey fade

vermillion exit –
even th’grasses’ve changed color,
but th’sunrise steals th’show

first frost at rushmore
th’sioux asks if it qualifies
as th’graven image

five thousand barrels
‘f crude – first snows ‘n th’amherst prairie
‘n’ he says, plumbing leaks

aberdeen farmer,
back from the war that christmas,
never wanted to leave

new year ‘t th’wall diner
cross country trip got waylaid,
they ask ‘bout movies

countdown ‘t th’wall saloon –
stopped on his way cross country,
now they took his keys

aberdeen prairie –
new year blizzard, ‘n’ he’s alone
with his memories

hoping th’sioux ‘n’ th’white guy
resolve th’problem with th’snowplow,
he keeps th’guns in th’trunk


all saints snowplow man,
sunday morning – don’t tell him
how to do his job

back roads ‘f watertown,
lost th’kid – th’crime, not taking ice
seriously enough

back roads ‘f watertown
th’kid smashed th’power box ‘n th’ice storm
‘n’ he’ll never forget

courthouse ‘t buffalo
blizzard pounds th’town, ‘n’ th’travelers
decide t’get married

search harding county
for coyotes, fly over'm, pop'm -
snow's our best ally

snow ‘n harding county,
used t’ th’slipp’ry roads, ‘n’ ‘t’s easier
t’find and kill th’coyotes

wall diner ashtray's
last stub smolders, bad coffee-
icy onramp looms

nature calls, 'n' he stops -
th'needles, th'badlands, orion,
'n' millions of his friends

ice over th’rapids –
sioux falls lass glad t’see th’last ‘f it
move on out of sight


near yankton, th’eagle –
graceful arch o’er th’thawing plains
which, he figures, are his

they stole th’town ‘f igloo
th’ruins sit ‘n th’blooming prairie,
‘n’ th’mem’ry’s forever

truck ‘f guys ‘n camos –
going t’sand lake t’hunt th’snow goose,
hoping th’decoys work

sand lake hunters’ tale –
stayed up all night, couldn’t tell
th’snow geese from th’decoys

joy ‘n’ th’first daffodils,
big sioux ‘n’ th’highway – they mean th’same
even in th’wild west

dandelion adrift -
sioux falls schoolgirl takes deep breath,
only wants t'get out

t’ th’sioux falls drama queen,
anywhere’s better than here –
she blows th’dandelion seeds

blows th’dand’lion seeds
sioux falls lass throws th’little stem
in th’gurgling river


ready f’r th’high school prom
spearfish lass poses by th’barn
where th’wildflow’rs’re blooming

mondragon daff’dils
th’spearfish lass already has
th’best ‘f life in this world

shadows ‘f mount rushmore –
from th’telephoto lens, he knows
that’s where th’green stuff grows (3-17)


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