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On the Backs of American Bison

b. william bearheart
Some dreams come ill, a bad kidney or two
maybe three. But no crow mourns for lost feathers.

A magpie might. Black and white and able to recognize its own reflection.
Black-billed Narcissus. Vain bird that you are.

Sensitive corvid. My mother used to call me a magpie.
In her poems, I was left for days in a bundle,

when my parents returned, they learned I had flown away
to the back of a nearby bison. What’s more American?

Here, the food was plentiful until they killed all the bison.
I had to find a new home, build a nest in riparian woodland.

With the wolves sitting around me, I told them my life.
They regurgitated new stories for me to dream.

While they weren’t looking, I’d steal their food
I’m a sensitive corvid after all. We have to survive somehow.
Madison Poet Laureate, Madison Public Library Poet-in-Residence
Why I chose this poem: 

The imagery, the couplets, there is such beautiful construction in this poem, the craft, the message, the language, the birds. A perfect poem in my opinion. Many layers. I could write pages about this poem. Bryan was a friend, another poet introduced us over email when I was considering going to the Institute of American Indian Arts. All of his poems are as amazing as this one and I was fortunate to have spent time with him at school and in Madison. I love his work.

b. william bearheart