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Poetry Contest 2022

Thank you to all who participated. We all so enjoyed reading your poems and many brought us to tears. Thank you all for your gifts.

AND THE WINNERS ARE.....

First place winner: 

Repairing (Pay for Your Food)

A great Artist created the plains.  
Took the fiberstuff of the universe and through the spindle of time
Created beautiful threads 
Fragrant threads of sweetgrass
Tough threads of siena brown bison
Melodious threads of the meadowlark
Gold threads of sunlight
Threads as numerous as the stars
And wove them into the seasons
Looped them into each other
 
Each thread a note
Every thread in harmony
A great symphony
rolling and laughing and balanced
 
The Artist wove in people and said it was good.
And the People said, this is good we are here.
And the Artist asked, if I allow you to weave, will you let the World unravel?
No. We will weave ourselves in your Work. 
Our thread intertwines with the bison
Our thread sings with the birds
Our thread runs with the wind
Our thread dances with the grass
We will respect and honor your Work.

For a time, there was balance
All the colors were in 

And another folk came.

They loved the work of their hands.
They wanted to be artists.
were afraid of the Hunger and the Cold and the Unknown.
But they were enlightened! They studied the World!
Science and Culture and Technology and Efficiency
They took the threads from the World 
Pulled hard and pulled fast
And starting weaving their own tapestry
The original pattern disintegrating

And their was great struggle
When you work against the World
And the Newcomers 
Struggle, Struggle
Build and Shovel
Iron and Coke
Railroad and Rifle
Homestead and Manifest Destiny
Cowboys and Indians
Blood red thread on the prairie.
The World Unraveling
Let’s get to work
If you don’t work, you won’t survive long out here.
Struggle, Struggle, Toil and Trouble
Sod house burn, blizzard blow and cattle stumble
A colorblind mismatch
Prairie Madness dressed in Calico
Braided blond hair on a belt
Retaliation and Hatred and Fear

They shredded the Bison thread with Remingtons and Sharps and Springfields
Tongues and Hides
Blood red thread on the prairie.
Weave our work, avoid the Hunger
Keep the best meat
Waste, Decay, and Flies
Empty eye socket skulls on trains
To the east
To be ground into bonedust for the fields

Plows cut the land with scissorlike precision
With scissorlike precison, the rifles cut the First People.
Blood red thread on the prairie.

Only our work must survive
Take those who wish to oppose it
And place them in camps
Let us make them like us
In our image
Give them culture and religion.
Now that is proper.
The Black Hills are not for sale.

Let us take the best meat.
And the gold.
They are not like us. 
 
We want to be the Artist
We create to destroy
We are creative in our destruction
Tractors cut up the threads of grass
And replace with wheat
The Work slumps
Glory, glory, glory
More wheat, more corn, more profit
Grind the bones, spread them on the land
Turn them into food
Don’t you know there is a war?

The work unravels
People are out of work
No work, no food
And dust
A thread unleashed 
No longer held by the grasses
Dust in lungs
In throats 
Steal the sun and our hope
Steel our souls for
The Hunger comes
 And we fear

Do you see the ghosts?
What ghosts?
Their ghosts, the ones we tried to make in our image.
Ghosts in the dust, the strangling dust, the starving dust
Sandy Creek, Wounded Knee
A beautiful Dream that died.

We grow the corn to feed our cars
And our cars poison the planet
We grow the corn to feed our animals
our barns packed to the brim
ammonia and antibiotics
Our animals poison the planet
Judge a society by how it treats the least
Slaughterhouse shock and confusion and pain
They suffer for our Hunger
 
Pesticide-Promised efficiency, increased yields
More fertilizer, increased yields
Milk the land for all she has
Buy chemicals to make up for what the crops took
But the topsoil is dripping away 
Manure runoff into streams
Dead zones in the Mississippi Delta
Beware the Agricultural/Industrial Complex
For the few, trips to exotic locales in private jets
if you buy enough brand name GMO seed 
Ones who take the best meat.

A small rebellion, a small repair, and unraveling of the work
Your own work is hard to unravel
The World turns to face the Artist
A herd of bison
Eating wild grass
With meadowlarks.
Sage and Sacrifice, no slaughter.
Blood on the prairie.
Efficiency. Simplicity. Harmony.

Circumvent the complex, cut the middlemen
But only the rich may currently eat
and absolve themselves of the System
Capitalism 
The worst economic system except every other system
Biding my time funding R&D
Funding a beautiful dream
Waiting for this Wild Idea 
to spread like Wild Fire 
on the prairie.

Judge a society by how it treats the least.
Pine Ridge Reservation Average Lifespan- 48 years old.
Pine Ridge Reservation Average Income- $6,286 
One in Three Native American Women has been raped.
Look to your left
Look to your right
One of you
Rise up! Rise up! 
Do you let this sit in your guts like the rocks that cover graves?
Do you let this sit in the back of your throat, in your mouth, like the sick-sour before you vomit?
Do you sit as the robbers beat your Neighbor, and leave him for dead on the road of life?

Will we always be the ones who take the best meat?
What do we do?
 
Pay for your food.
What.
Pay for your food.
The system makes it as cheap as it can.
The dollar hides the costs.
The costs we just covered
I don’t pay for Bison meat
I pay for beauty
I pay for harmony
I pay for peace
I pay for justice
I pay for dignity
I pay for jobs for Lakota
I pay for health
I pay for a revolution
If I am what I eat, I want to be these.

Like arrows we spring forth from our parents
Beyond the horizon we go
Small ones in the wild grasses, young men soon to be.
Our hope in future’s past.
When our eyes fail to see, and our ears no longer hear.
Our children are what we have.
Leave them with

birdsong beauty hope
In the World of Bison and Grass and People

Rachel H April 27, 2022

Second place winner:

What I Want 2022

What I want
Is the character of four seasons intact
Stewardship of our world based on fact
Slow food, from my own hands and loam
And the pure places where buffalo roam
Bequeathing my child nature to admire
Just the things all parents desire
Oh, how I ache for
What I want.

Anne Walters 

Wind pushes across prairie.
Grasses rustle.
Prairie dogs ripple.

The sacred buffalo steps to the beat of Earth.
Clouds walk through open sky.
Crisp air lulls coneflower upward.

A score of interconnected notes,
As it should be.
———sacred music.

Lorilei Lebruska 

Congratulations to all! One of our fabulous customer service team members will be reaching out to award your prize! Thank you all! 

____________________________________ 

It's National Poetry Month, so it's time to bring out your inner poet for our annual Freestyle Poetry Contest! And... this year we are offering three prizes! Here's how our contest works: Submit your original poem in the comment section below by noon, Wednesday April 27th. Our panel of judges will deliberate and select their favorite three poems and the winners will be announced on National Great Poetry Reading Day, Thursday, April 28th. 
buffalo herd moving through golden prairie grass
Your poem must include the word bison or buffalo to qualify. Staff, affiliated partners and published poets are encouraged to participate, but cannot be considered for a winning placement.  

This years prizes are:
First Place Winner will receive a $100.00 Buffalo Meat Certificate!
Second & Third Place Winners will each receive a $50.00 Buffalo Meat Certificate!

To start you off this year, we offer you this poem as a little inspiration. Good luck to all! 
prairie grassA Poem from the Grass
I bend in the prairie wind, but do not break.
If you plow me up, my heart will ache.

I am an ocean of grass, with roots that run deep.
Holding carbon in the soil, where it will safely keep.

I am fertile, I am life.
Why kill me and cause strife.

By filling the the air with CO2,
our children will be stuck with an environmental IOU.

My grasslands offer shelter and a home,
for wildlife that crawl, slither, fly & roam.

Along with a buffet of diverse healthy nourishment,
just in case you need a bit of encouragement.

So promise me that you will protect,
and treat our earth mother with respect.

The rain, sun and buffalo will keep me strong,
and in turn they can feed you and help you live long.

 

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59 comments

  • The Bison: Our Strength

    I think about the Bison
    who roam the prairie sea,
    I see them free and easy-
    In my mind I know they’re mighty.

    Often do I wonder
    simply what they ponder?
    Their big eyes stare right through me,
    I cannot deny
    the connection in my soul
    to my ancestors,
    big, brown, and fully in control.

    People thought they didn’t need them.
    Rulers thought they could unmake them.
    Time goes by and they’ll reflect,
    what they really lost was all self-respect.

    Yet here they are:
    The Bison,
    Our Strength,
    in glory, as redeemed.
    And still, a long way to go
    before they are again esteemed.

    Nikki B
  • In the Eyes of the Bison
    ——————————————
    In the eyes of the bison,
    the fauna are close friends yet careful observers,
    the flora are nourishment yet protection,
    the Earth is home yet bounded,
    in the eyes of the bison.

    Meredith F.
  • The Boulder by the Creek

    Pity them, they want to live. Pity us all
    Fallen from gracious rolling fields
    Of grasses short and tall
    Where hunger was the constant moon
    Waxing and waning its cold light
    Shining firm purpose through the night
    On hunters running scared
    And felling beasts in season.

    Now tricksters call me on the phone
    Fine print lays the lawyers’ snares
    Salesmen hunt my signature in
    Cannibalistic war all’s fare
    For bonus found in gold’s reward.
    Pity them, they want to live.

    Rock of ages left for me
    By the ice age rivering seas
    Of glacial stones through fertile plains
    Stirring bisons’ weathered bones
    Buried ages before me.
    Touch the rock to feel free.

    Some Guy from Omaha, Sort of
  • Ghost bison await
    Hearts beat as one, swaying grass
    Dream hooves make thunder

    Oki Kuma
  • ON THE HOOF (haiku)
    Bison in that wind
    Standing in belly high grass
    Saving their own world

    Roxanne Harrington
  • The Story of the Moon

    *This is a part in my novel called Pink Moon Rising, that I hope to finish and publish soon.

    I am lying on my bed flat on my back just staring up at the
    ceiling.
    I try to close my eyes,
    but when I do feel tears sting my eyes.

    I look over at the moon and see a silhouette of a buffalo
    in it tonight.
    I remember the story that my mother told me.
    The moon sees me,
    the moon sees you.
    Was always how she would end the story.
    I love the part at the end when the Coyote comes out every
    night to see the Moon and to sing to her,
    it makes me think that somewhere,
    someone is looking at the same moon I am seeing.

    Halsten Hutchings
  • Ode to the North American Bison

    Lumbering beast
    looking at me
    eye to eye
    slowly walking my way,

    Are your steps careful, precise
    or merely the plodding of one
    short on wit and wisdom,
    a golem not so much protecting
    my people from predators
    merely a creature born of mud
    with more muscle and sinew
    than sense of purpose,
    protecting no one so much
    as projecting the memory
    of all we have destroyed
    on this country’s vain march to imperial greatness
    that knows neither morality
    nor even a flicker
    of self awareness or doubt?

    I would incautiously hug you
    if I could but alas
    my arms are too short
    and my self awareness too long,
    so i nuzzle you in my mind
    hear your sad cry in my soul
    and feel the loss of innocence
    knowing eden was so long ago
    that perhaps it never really existed.

    Howard Lieberman
  • “God” lives in the forest. She lives in the trees, in the grasses, in the mountains, in the wolves, in the bison, in the water, and most forgotten, in us. I believe she is there in the community, resilience, connection and dependence of each, to the other. There have been many conversations with nature and I always feel her love and supportive understanding. Always enveloped by her shady cover of enlightenment and truth, her new and old. I have been embraced and forgotten. I have been lost and found. I have been nourished, deprived, content and in dismay. All of which the scope and magnitude of such wonders, will thankfully always be greater than the depth of my understanding.

    Cindy Bennett
  • Song of the Buffalo

    I am spirit of the prairie..from time long past and still today.

    I am provider…to all those who honor me and for whom I choose to sacrifice myself.

    I am restorer…of the beautiful, wide-open prairies of rolling, green hills and big skies.

    I am life-giver…to countless newborn of my kind since time began.

    I am protector…of all my family and all those smaller prairie families who depend on my roaming and living.

    I am friend…to all those two-leggeds who have taken the time to know me and understand my ways.

    I am all of these…so it has always been and so it shall always be.

    I am Buffalo!!

    Jeff Hensley
  • Great Plains Slumber
    As far off thunderclaps rouse me from my slumber, I awake to twilight on the Great Plains.
    Sitting up, looking out over the rolling landscape, I find peace.
    This peace comes from being.
    This being comes from the Great Spirit.
    I say nothing, I think nothing.
    All that is needed is here.
    The remaining light fades and darkness surrounds me now.
    Still, in the distance the storm continues, unaware of my humanness.
    Just then, the thunder closes in! Now, accompanied by lightning!
    Ominous? Yes, but welcomed too.
    Suddenly, I am aware of a sound that is not Thunder.
    This sound, a sound of life, of nourishment, of awe.
    There, in the distance, backlit by lightning I now see….
    …He Who Owns Us is making its way across the vast greatness in the dark of the night.
    Tatanka is awake and all around!
    As I hear the hoof beats across the ground, I become aware of my heartbeat.
    Now I am content …now, I am alive!
    Fred Benavidez
    4/26/2022

    Fred Benavidez
  • Buffalo, Buffalo where do you go? roaming the desert all night long, from evening to dawn.
    Buffalo, Buffalo, what do I hear, from afar I see you up over the hills. Sweet to the taste all the day long. You are known for such sweet pleasant meat fine to the taste, your meat making one strong.
    Buffalo Buffalo trusted and true is your memory brough forth to the world for all to see. Time after time you have stood in the fields and time after time you have brough forth our meals. So, to the Buffalos of the hills its been a thrill. I say to the Buffalo keep in those hills that all may find the thrill of viewing the Buffalo at will.

    Fran
  • A HIGH PLAINS HAIKU*

    Sacred smoke drifts by,

    River flows shallow and slow-

    Buffalo can’t fly!

    With apologies to Matsuo Basho
    Ross Crago
  • Bison = Freedom

    Do they know the gifts they provide -
    to the Flora and Fauna and human kind?
    As in the days of old, they roam and carry -
    the means to regenerate the living prairie.

    Nudged by those who passionately care
    for the life abundant for all to share -
    A wild idea with a sense of peace gained -
    let the buffalo roam and freedom reign.

    Kristen Goff
  • on the winter windswept prairie
    the frozen breath of the buffalo
    rises like incense—honoring the sacredness of life

    Char Davis
  • Beneath a vast and watching sky
    The steady thunder of bison
    Churns our blood
    Awakens our bones
    Only the Earth can count
    The number of their hooves
    While celebrating the wallows
    That quench the praires thirst
    And calling the rainclouds home
    Each grunt, each bellow
    A recognition they have survived
    Through railroad gun and knife
    Through disease and drought
    Their children move on
    Beneath the sky
    Beneath the stars
    Strong
    Unwavering

    Benn Mac Stiofán

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