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.


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
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.
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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  • Here is my submission to the 2022 poetry contest. I love that you are doing this!

    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
  • We, who are waiting,
    suddenly abandoned,
    left with maddening sorrow
    can only weave
    and grow
    beautifully rich memories,
    of the ones we held precious until those stories
    lay themselves down, solid like granite,
    so once again, we can allow ourselves to
    walk upright
    and held,
    through the rest of our days.

    Barbara Nelson Nash
  • 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

    Fred Benavidez
  • A Wild Idea Indeed

    A wild idea would be to restore the prairie and plains
    To undo to nature what man has done
    A miracle short of the heavens we would need

    But if we just let the buffalo roam
    Their return would plant the seed
    A wild idea indeed

    Richard Stark
  • A Prairie’s Entreaty

    Life as usual
    A thriving chaos of human cacophony
    Myriads of footsteps
    From parking lots to shopping malls and back.

    Why did you let us die?

    A boneyard immense with scattered, shattered
    Skeletal roots buried in starving soil
    The vanquishment of flora and fauna
    Into inert and silent oblivion.

    Why did you not save us?

    But a time once was
    When prodigious root systems burgeoned below
    Boldly thrusting themselves ever deep
    Into fecund soils, rich and sweet
    Entwining, embracing, enriching, protecting.

    We kept your waters pure.

    A time once was
    When wild frenzies of dancing grasses
    Lofty, robust, majestic
    Proliferated above, greedily soaking up sun and gases
    Swallowing carbon with ease, storing, protecting.

    We gave you clean air.

    And a time once was
    When bobolinks regaled with ebullient melodies
    While booming prairie chickens so wooed their ladies
    And luscious wildflower throngs enticingly
    Beckoned to butterflies and bumblebees.

    We blessed you with biodiversity.

    Now close your eyes and see
    Life above as was meant to be
    A thriving trove of species harmony
    Listen now for those footfalls profound
    The mighty, resolute hooves
    Of the stalwart bison grazers
    Burying seeds, creating water pockets
    As they plod, these thewy behemoths
    Instinctively roaming, grazing only purposefully
    The venerated guardians of the Great Plains Prairie.

    Will you restore us to what we used to be?

    Barbara Marrs
  • Harvest Day

    Sage smoke blesses dawn
    Bison bull presents himself
    Blood feeds prairie soil

    Chuck Beatty
  • Message: Gift of the Kuutsoo
    A Tereze Militello

    Manitou I thank Thee for the darkness of the sky at night
    The many lights that glow and sparkle, the Moon that
    Casts a silver blanket across the fields of tall grass
    That glow as gold in the morning Sunlight
    Winds that soften the heat of day and caress the
    Fields making them dance and laugh
    Thank Thee too for
    The Winter snow that allows the new growth to sleep below
    Before the births blossom in the early Spring
    The seedlings and the roots that go deep into the soil
    to feed the growing children of your Creation
    Thank Thee too for the babes
    Born to the Elk, Deer, Wolves, Beaver
    Manitou I hear the thunder of the herd as the Buffalo
    Return and we renew the hunt of this most gracious gift
    Let my people always know the Buffalo, will never
    go away as much has gone from the land
    Bless the people with the abundance for all our time
    For now we are Red, Black, White, Yellow of skin
    and share your bounty and love for one another
    Sister and Brothers and Kuutsoo

    Aydene Militello
  • Buffalo
    following an ancient trace.

    Hoof beats on the verdant plain

    Woolley heads with curved horns

    Gently sway.

    On the rolling hills they pause

    To eat and rest and play.

    More and more arrive and join

    the thousands on the hills


    Brian Johnson
  • Buffalo roam wild
    in the wind on the prairie
    healing the planet

    Jan Person
  • The Halo

    At the end of life
    Nature leads wild souls
    To a place
    In the high meadows.

    Lush green grass
    Flowing in waves
    Lure the buffalo, and deer
    From their graves.

    There they mingle
    With their prairie friends
    Which have also met
    Their varied ends.

    Two might speak
    As they come and go
    And one might say
    Hey, that’s a buff halo.

    Perry Buck
  • That darn wind keeps blowing,
    And there’s a chance it could be snowing,
    But my grass-fed neighbor is already mowing,
    Sure signs of spring!

    Time flies like a guzzling Hummer,
    Soon it will be summer,
    And, traffic will get dumber,
    With the arrival of tourists!

    Then the heat will get tougher,
    Serenaded by a Harley muffler,
    And, folks without a buffer,
    Get a pants-ing from our bison!

    Nancy Anderson-Smith
  • Harbinger
    The sly Clark Fork plays out its hand by the time it meanders into Lake Pend Oreille
    It’s white water, silvery fish and caddis finishing their journey as almost an afterthought
    The suddenness saddens me and I wonder of another time when life ran free

    But hard near Highway 200, west of Hope, there stands a bison living life
    Alone, he leaves his tired shed to wallow and glow in spring’s wet sun
    His burly shadow a tale of ancestors roaming free while breezes hugged the plains

    I call him Tatanka……He who owns us

    As I ramble by his home, I pull to the side and shout his name with a mighty voice
    Hoping to summon his energy before traveling on
    He is a good friend but seldom looks, perhaps wondering how his kind grew so few

    From millions to a small herd seeking shelter along a friendly Yellowstone,
    The giver of life retreated for survival and peace, considering fate and future
    Like the Lakotas and others, gone was their time,
    Vanishing in view but somehow invisible

    Is he a harbinger of our journey, one we cannot understand
    Our arrogance blinding us, our cycle unsure, our misdeeds haunting the future
    I remind myself I am strong and loved, still mindful of tomorrow

    I shout “Tatanka”

    Dominic Cvitanich
  • Tha tanka – buffalo or bison if you prefer
    Their numbers were many not long ago
    They fed, clothed and house the people
    Wolves, bears, birds and bugs were feed
    Prairies, hillsides, and mountains thrived
    Lush green and healthy
    Bulls cows and babies
    They lived so we could live
    Completing the Circle of life

    Cheryl Williams
  • The Bison provides me food. Their heart I eat for father sky who gives me life and peace. The Buffalo I make my clothes from. I chase the buffalo like the wind it makes me a warrior who brings food for all in my village. The Parie I roam which is my home. Father sky bless our people by bringing us the white buffalo. I want peace among our enemies and show us the way in which to live. Father sky the Bison give us life you give us wisdom to know what to do and show us the way to go. I bless all peoples so we can live among, so we may learn the ways of the white man. I am a warrior who rides like the wind and fights like a warrior and is quiet like the bear. We blend in with the trees, hunt, kill, and enjoy what our father gives us. The water to drink the wind to be fast as a horse and the Bison when running in the Parie.

    Brenda Horton
  • Give room while they roam
    Give land for their home
    Our bison, freed
    Our prairies, restored
    Give room.

    Andrea J

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