National Bison Range, Moiese, Montana

Silt-brown and yellow, yellow and brown
the grass urine-yellow
rising into mismatched haunches, and there,
mud stained with sweat, musk, blood:
a brown inimical to
the sweet-pea blue of the sky,
the clover crushed underfoot
and feathered with dust.

The bison gather in knots
on the rolling grassland,
their heads blocked by the air.
In those scattered threes or twos
undeniably, some memory of the
rippling plain of bone and hair,
and in the siege hammer heads
that great Picasso eye,
staring like a shark,
determined, drowning.

They have hidden outrage well
or perhaps they have lost it,
or perhaps outrage is a human thing.

On 70th Street — eight forty-six,
a February day.
The cars queue shoulder to shoulder
at the intersection,
their thunder rolling up
from the Oak Street Bridge
where they ford the Fraser.

Listen! Just like we did as kids,
putting our heads to the sidewalk
and the singing lamppost.
Listen to the inhumation of sound
from the silver metal sea.
How bright they are! How solitary,
the drivers, their eyes staring,
grimly and gladly staring
drowning, determined.

They have hidden outrage well
or perhaps they have lost it,
or perhaps outrage is a human thing.


Mr. Springer, who resides
at the dingy bungalow
on Constance Court
that we can see from the wooden deck
of our wooden house,
and who last Saturday started the fire
that burned a thousand acres of grass
due south along the lake —

that Mr. Springer,
who the neighbors,
shortly after, bilious,
suggested should go to prison
for the rest of his too-long life,
was just connecting
an electric fence.

Sparks flew.
They do
at high school dances and in fields
and sometimes catch fire
and run for all our panic water.

But now, across the road,
through the window of his living room,
I watch him watching television,
his generator in the driveway,
and around the place, the black grass
spread the way it did / not away
the way it did,
but sharp-tongued prairie now
licking up,
darkly, acidly
against the flickering wall
of his flickering house.

Among My Superpowers

One. Finding lost things
my wife could never find,
but I failed with virginity
and no longer count it on my résumé.

Two. Casting protection spells for deer.

Three. Sketching.
Well — until recently.
I can’t draw anymore:
all art discriminates;
it is all about difference,
and I have lost the sense
of one thing in relation to another.

I take off my shoes and place my feet,
heel to sod, in the prairie coneflower,
take a pencil,
but my talent is gone.
The upright toe of the flower,
in the blue grama
like a nub of cherubim,
and the tall rye grass
seem attached to me;
my legs now, articulated like juniper.
The berries on the sand cherry are out,
bulging, livid as the eyes
of damselflies,
and the powder-green sagewort,
that wild shortgrass, fringes my scalp
down to the flint and shale
of this ancient skin.

The pencil disappears.
I find it with the mountain mahogany,
where it has grown feathers.
It is still too weak to fly.
By the weekend it will be
south with Scorpio.