Friday, 23 of February of 2018

Joseph Bruchac – Buffalo in Syracuse Zoo

The buffalo with the crooked horn
cannot be my totem animal,
within its 1000 feet of corral
there is no freedom,
guard rail barriers keep it
from charging the fences
the same guard rails
line highways that scar
the mountains of the Apache
tie down the holy rivers of Menominee
and divide the land of the Onandaga

When you drive the four-lane
outside this city of salt
you see men and boys,
grandchildren of the chief
on the buffalo nickel
crossing the road, coming out
of the pine hills to reach
lacrosse fields cut off by the black stream.
For a nickel you can buy
a postcard of the old man,
dead two years now, posing
in headdress and overalls
before the Flood Prevention Dam
the Army Engineers built through
the reservation.
People throw dust at the buffalo,
handfuls of pebbles, popsicle wrappers
wadded around broken sticks.
They want to see it paw the ground,
toss the grotesque majesty
of its marred head.
And it is in moments like this
that my madness takes me
and I want to remove my shirt, my shoes
and climb the fence to embrace a beast
which could only gore me into the dust
or turn from my strange love
100 years and half a continent too late.

Joseph Bruchac
September 22 1989 Earth First!

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