He was an old Crow Indian
Rejected by all his kin,
That never fit in any world,
But now lived among white men.
He must have been near one hundred
In our scale of years on earth,
And acquired a wealth of wisdom
From the first day of his birth.
All his words would tell his visions,
And I can hear them all still—
Especially his prophecy:
The dark horse upon the hill.
The time would be of many storms,
And grim changes would occur—
There would be wars and many deaths
And the bloody, silver spur.
The chiefs would be great and many,
Yet their medicine be bad—
And on the land would be defeat—
Squaws would wither and be sad.
Yet, there would be one still more feared
To trap us with his cruel will—
The one that spoke of hope and change:
That dark horse upon the hill.
And so the once great nation falls
And becomes like all the rest—
The mighty banner now unfurled
As it sinks into the West.
Yes, that old Crow saw it all then—
Now we know the coming chill—
We hold blinded eyes open to
The dark horse upon the hill.
It transferred like bequest's constrain;
the ghostly harbor - my sixth sense,
men's goals had died, on lives' expense,
- this notion bothered me again.
Had sent the mail - my filed advice -
the ghosts of gunmen who have died,
on moors they stood yonside old pride,
- the Rider asked his deathly price.
In air he thumped, his rhythm - gust waves;
demanding cruel new death toll;
in town each woman wore black stole,
the 'killed in duel' dwell in graves;
The Rider hummed - our vessel moored
inside this port on Nueces' edge,
much red was shed on cypress sedge
- my instincts sharpened and inured.
Tall stood he on the wharf - I knew
the wind whipped ropes upon head-mast,
- we drew the guns; he lifted fast;
my two guns bucked debt-law to ensue.
I felt the slug - he moved across,
already-a-ghost, on moors he stood;
I tasted blood - got up - I should,
with red drops staining grass and moss.
I saw her standing on the field
amid red poppies and tall trees,
her thought became my holy shield,
bestowed thenceforth, her grace in breeze.
She spread her arms and called me eft,
above the clouds to Astral Halls
athwart stood gunman - fast and deft
in Tombstone, Mobile and Sioux Falls.)
I rolled and lit a Durham smoke
with children watching me round-eyed;
that March, (I thought), a gunman died,
I heard bells' knell and two crows croak.
© G.V. 07-18-2013
(Ballad - Iambic tetrameter)
Sponsor: Poet Destroyer A
Contest Name: Ballad (old/new)
Dark angel of heartbeating pound,
sixth sense of premonition glide,
kin to his ways and scopes to bound,
steel spurs transmit the word around,
the deathwalk starts on dusty ground,
Smith-Wesson guns, tied down his side
Dark angel of heartbeating pound,
sixth sense of premonition glide.
On deathwalk's noon, with light increased,
the shelling slugs will serve the cause,
hands flash and men attend Death's feast,
(gunfighters tho' had ne'er believed,
that once will be 'mid the deceased);
atrocious are, the drawing laws,
On deathwalk's noon with light increased,
the shelling slugs will serve the cause.
Gunfighter walks on dust, midday,
where forty fours will blossom fire,
his eyes traverse the town's details,
a draw of bluff on deathwalk trail,
will have sixes' to beat, twin play,
black coat, gun belt - and dry briar.
Gunfighter walks on dust, midday,
where forty fours will blossom fire.
© G. V. 11/5/2012 All rights reserved
( Ballad - Triolet )
It slides softly in the night sky,
That pale moccasin of the moon—
It lights up a snow-bleached prairie—
Whispering summer comes too soon.
We trace the trail of coyotes—
Avoid the dark dens of the bear—
The full light of your white footprint
Lures us now to your fatal lair.
Oh, we chant into the black dome
Of all the things that used to be—
There’s no more Indian summer—
Long gone are Cree and Cherokee.
Yet, still the silky stealthy tread
Brings back images bright and keen—
Of lost Native Americans
Where so few are now seldom seen.
But moons do not let us forget
All the wild blood shed on both sides—
As we trace steps of moccasins
To where the dark of the moon hides.
Yes, it walks gently in tall sky,
That faint moccasin of new moon—
So gently it illuminates
As we dance mutely to its tune.
I did not drive the roan that day,
Just saddled up my old dark bay,
To check out fences far afield
And breathe in life with all its yield.
Near border’s end I came upon
A fresh, dead cow down by the pond.
I wondered why it had died here
With water and spring grass so near.
I spurred my horse and reined away
But something said that I should stay—
I creaked down from my saddle’s reach
And saw the cow had died in breech.
I knew they should be buried soon,
By light of day or dark of moon.
I left them there, that calf and cow
And rode back home in thought somehow.
I had forgot that scene of death
Till summer quickly took my breath
And once again I passed that shell
Of twisted skin and faded smell.
The worms had done their work it seems
On frenzied flesh and faltered dreams.
Yet, still I stared like at a grave—
Thought how we took but seldom gave.
Then autumn came and tinted trees
With colors each low creature sees.
So on my horse I sought them out,
To answer what this life’s about.
A mute Madonna—sticks of bone,
Still nestled there so all alone.
We live and die, the season’s dawn,
We’re all breech born before we’re gone.
In winter’s wind the world turns cold
As cow and calf and man grow old.
Yet, now there’s no sinew or hide
To hint of life or what’s inside.
Death’s passion passed and so did I
To pay respects and say goodbye.
For man and beast all die as kin—
I will not ride this trail again.
He rode in from Texas, calmly chewing a piece of straw.
Folks rumored him a Ranger, some sorta man of Law.
An expressionless face, eyes close 'n stern.
Long barreled pistol, well kept 'n tied down firm.
It was the thirtieth of October, I remember it well.
Sit back 'n relax, I'll narrate the Stranger's tale.
Beer 'n whiskey shots, made the Stranger's tongue loose.
Tugs at his scarf, revealed scars from a noose.
Said he'd come to Denver, to escape the prairie fires.
Recipients of his story, placed him amongst certain liars.
Utterances of bright lights, in a calm night watch dream.
Stampeded cattle, loud voices 'n a haunting scream.
Empty hollow eyes, like death the Stranger was cold.
The annual midnight curse, is what the Ranger told.
Awoke in the saddle, by a Dark Angel of certain death.
Calm night air stirred, vapors rise from cattle's breath.
Focus controlled visions of the chilled dark night.
Squinted images appear from his questioned sight.
At one stroke past midnight, the curse we all had seen.
The Stranger changed to a man of straw, twas now Halloween!
By Jim "Ish" Fellers
Copyright © : August 31st, 2003 ~ Sunday
As I walk from the dark days of my life..
I leave a pass behind in my life...Days of partying
and drinking and doing drugs...And chasing women....
are gone..And being angry at the world is gone.....
I guess being a rebel comes age+wisdom...
and a time to slow down and having a family is more
important ..The days of hell raising are gone and
lighted days are here..time and memories are that's
all that is left....The dark days are gone...Man it is hard
But she would not even read it – she knew what lay within—
A red rage toward her country now the fire that was her friend.
Yet just a few days later on a now black Christmas Eve—
Another knock was heard from a cowboy come home on leave.
And Jim Blue Moon stood on the porch with presents in one arm,
A proof against dark forces wishing all of us great harm.
He said like Twain, news of his death was exaggerated—
And with smiles his wife helped him in, and they celebrated.
Yet in the haze of happiness and all her loving care,
Only now did Liz realize Blue’s left arm was not there.
But snatching life from death’s dark rider is a precious thing,
And nothing could dispel the joy their reunion would bring.
Then came the new Christmas day, which now seemed so clear and bright—
Yet Blue held back - flexed his cold metal arm in morning light.
“I wonder if it was worth it?” Blue mumbled at the sight—
But Liz nodded and said: “Yes, you did the thing that was right.”
Then they slowly opened presents - three united again—
Later dad and mom came over, and each rodeo friend.
“PBR’s done,” dad whispered in a voice like from the grave—
“Heck no!” Blue then replied, “I just lost the arm that I wave!”
Sure enough, with prosthetic arm, Blue rode the bulls once more—
Till he volunteered to go back to that faraway shore.
Alone, Jim’s wife held their child and the inner one so new—
As a full, pale Christmas moon rose and slowly turned to blue.
Last Freedom Fighters
They fought battles to conquer and spread the good news, it became a mighty
state, ports open to all refugees, hard men building a new world for the next
generation to travel, trading their souls for possessions to conquer these foreign
Hidden agenda was not known yet, our red brothers gave us warnings of
many coming, our spirits calling to form a tribal union, speaking of the old days. A
white calf will be born, our corn will burn from the sun rays, smoke rising to the
stars, echo’s from the great chief, a war painted warrior speaking truth to the last
tribe, our homes were yesterday paths, our children do not speak our language,
the old sit on broken stumps not on our women woven rugs.
Sorrow comes rushing in as the pendulum swings, dividing lands between
the waters. Broken arrows burns their hearts, the teeth of the great wolf licks its
prey, waiting in the dark den, an image of timeless tales. Unknown visitors came
upon our lands and brought with them this great destruction to our pastures,
many warriors now lay in scared burial grounds, they took our women and laid
besides them making them slaves.
Our smoke clouds bringing visions, the red fox forewarns about a massacre,
ones that carry the pocked marked faces, yellow hairs that rode broken mares.
It’s now there fate to give back these grounds that belonged to us, we stand tall
knowing the fate of the last freedom fighter, they will go down to the valleys and
lay besides our own. Our eagle soars and the black bears speaks, its upon our
lands that we stood by the waters which turned into red rivers, the mountains
shake bringing down the snow, the animals hide, the dark cloud is coming by the
hands of great men, they too shall melt with the rising sun.
(At Wild Bill Hickok’s Grave)
Those bold Black Hills of South Dakota,
Darkly murmur of all your Badlands—
You have left now like the Lakota—
On that hillside your monument stands.
Hills pulse under Ponderosa pines—
Strong night breezes have yet much to say—
Legends linger on lips and pale shrines—
They know that Wild Bill once passed this way.
You sleep long in this last resting place,
That now overlooks sinful Deadwood—
It is here that we still see your face,
Yet ponder if you were bad or good.
They moved your petrified form it’s said—
Casket opened, though some thought it wrong—
Your dark face yet perfect, though long dead—
Your fair hair still so flaxen and long.
Jane Cannary lays mute beside you—
A calamity that is no more—
As you study those cards in the blue—
Play that dead man’s hand from a far shore.
Saffron leaves and stern winds shape your grave—
And your name’s one that we all know still—
As you raise dark death’s ante and save,
One last red ace to trump Deadwood hill.