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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

  • A Wild Idea

    A road trip through fly over states
    My Midwest childhood home
    Infinite fields stretched taut
    A canvas of corn, grains, and beans

    A bottomless pit of wide-open spaces
    Hay bales depressing the freshly cut earth
    Sunflowers hanging their heads under grey skies
    Cornstalks bravely awaiting the grim reaper

    I used to love the rows and rows of conformity
    Crops bending obediently in the hot summer sun
    But one day I had a Wild Idea
    And I moved to the great American West

    A Wild West of expansive prairies, canyons, and mountains
    Where a new crop of cowboys and ranchers
    Are raising awareness of our fragile ecosystem
    As they nurture their herds of buffalo

    Their work is their passion; their life; their love
    They feed our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our souls
    As their bison regenerate the prairie grasslands
    my belief in compassionate animal husbandry blooms and grows

    These lovers of the Wild West
    Are raising their bison in nature
    With grass and water and sunshine
    What a Wild Idea

    Susan Cox
  • BISON DREAMS

    We could learn a lesson from the bison
    Note; how they are not only an animal, not only
    the herd, the group,
    they are a way of life

    across their relentless wanderings, in this drought filled land
    they don’t find water
    they make it

    Dig up land and grass with their hooves
    break through to water
    pools for them to sip from
    to quench the thirst of a beast that can weigh 2,000 pounds.
    and what is left behind?
    it becomes
    a way for the birds to drink
    silver pools,
    cool mirrors
    on their way, their path, their Bison-made
    migration

    if only we could migrate
    follow the trail of silver
    recollect our thoughts
    reaffirm our beliefs
    on a golden plain
    on a recreation
    on a
    migration
    on the grass these animals eat

    how can these whisper-thin blades

    these golden strands
    like hair
    like thread on a loom
    the thread that winds and pulls and holds together a land
    by being a source
    a source of food and energy and life
    how much of this thin-bladed,
    nutrient
    low
    vegetable
    would we have to eat to fuel even an hour of our life
    our hour
    an hour of screens and likes
    subscribe here,
    post here,
    tell me what you think
    how much would we need to consume to fuel even an hour of our screen-consuming
    and these shaggy kings,
    these bison
    regal in furry finery
    eat only this to fuel a movement of a herd
    Miles and miles and miles of movement
    fueled by green-gold blades

    each herd containing beasts of all gender’s, ages,
    weighing at least-
    500 pounds each
    500 pounds each
    how much grass would it take to fuel even 10 of these monsters
    for the miles they walk
    the weather and wind and hardship they endure
    and still they survive
    this topsy turvy math problem
    they determine, shape and control the destiny of the grass
    and in a grassland
    the grass counts for a lot
    so they become a way of life for more than
    just the birds

    and what about us
    how did we,
    us two-legged
    ambitious
    know-it-alls
    react to this grand beast?

    For years we hunted these bison
    but not with malice
    with respect
    and gratefulness
    and need
    need for this animal
    the way it transformed this land’s delicate grass
    into the meat, the fur, the bones we needed
    to be,
    quite literally,
    the bones of this society

    And it garnered our respect for this ability
    this unique power to hold together
    this ecosystem
    this savannah
    this way of life

    And then our ways changed
    we took
    and stole
    and destroyed
    this land, this home
    for an urbanized world
    for lonely patches of forsaken land with “toxic” signs and fences

    so can we go back?
    can we turn back the clock
    reverse our world
    trade our ways for bison?
    not the animal
    but the way of life
    the way of the Sarsi and the Blackfoot
    the Arapaho
    the Lakota?
    And others, too many to name?
    The way of conservationists and protesters
    the people who see our ways and dream of change
    who change other’s dreams?
    can we not steal
    as humans do,
    but instead hold together,
    create,
    be a way of life for the world
    as the bison are?

    That’s a question I’ve already answered for myself.
    Have you?

    Sophia Tabacca
  • POEM The Buffalo The Buffalo live’s wild and free, on the fine prairie.It’s theirs Home.The Buffalo relaxing and roaming around.Let the Buffalo live theirs life, don’t cause a strife.The Buffalo have lived there for so long.Buffalo meat will keep you strong.All Buffalo is lovely, some Buffalo it’s white and Holy.It’s theirs destiny, listen to theirs melody. The Buffalo is perfect, show the Buffalo Respect…
    Heavenly Greetings The Holy Poet Bjørn Stuverød. Stuveladden 

    Bjørn Stuverød
  • Bison, bison, you beasts,
    You’re such tasty feasts,
    And your grazing is amazing.
    Birds and people thank you!

    Bison, bison, shaggy coats,
    Cinnamon babies to boast!
    Keep on growing, you’re showing
    That Nature knows best.

    Bison, bison, your meat
    It is such a treat.
    Leaner, not meaner,
    And that means a lot.

    Judith Billings
  • “WHY” why do they have to burn all the pretty leaves and let the smoke blow high into the sky it’s a shame that all the colors come out in the fall and then we will take them all and then burn them till their all black and and let the smoke blow high as they are waving goodbye as they float up to the sky

    MARK VONDERWERTH
  • A Time For Reconnection

    We’ve been away, we’ve been apart,
    And in some ways the gulf seems unbridgeable.
    A yawning, gaping, hollow void between.

    You’ve always been there, will be there, can be accessed at will
    Unless that’s suddenly, irreversibly no longer true.

    Taken for granted at peril.

    The world has changed, and yet (of course) it’s still just the same.
    The water still flows, the grass still grows, the sun still blazes, the bison still grazes
    and enriches the prairie with his tread,
    and his wallow,
    and his dung,
    and his frolicking play.

    Taken for granted at peril.

    The time has come to reconnect, you and I
    to enrich one another in myriad, knowable and unknowable ways
    like the bison has reconnected with the prairie
    even though he never truly left at all…

    Chris Black
  • Buffalo-Spangled Prairie
    (Tto the tune of Star-Spangled Banner)

    Oh see the grass nod
    By the quiet stream side,
    Where young gold bison calves
    Complain at their new weaning.

    Whose broad skulls and bright bones,
    So serene in moonlight?
    Who once o’er the wide plains
    Were so thund’rously streaming?
    And the sunset’s orange glare,
    Shock of light in the air,
    Gives proof through twilight,
    That our hope is still there!

    Oh say does that
    Buffalo nation yet roam
    O’er a land that is free
    And is their rightful home?

    Ben Lehr
  • Baby Buffalo so small
    Look at the little guy roam
    Make sure he doesn’t fall
    Because he has to make it home!

    J Nixon
  • New Calf Haiku
    Calves on shaky legs
    their mommas encourage them
    while dads protect them

    James E. Swab
  • Newborn Buffalo
    Dawn of Life in the Prairie
    Nourishing the Earth.

    Karen Brooks
  • When Buffaloes Think

    When Buffaloes think
    They think about stink
    The sweet of the creek
    The new of the calf
    The poo at their feet
    The people they meet
    Who don’t think about
    Stink

    When buffaloes think
    They think about screech
    They think about howl
    And hoot
    And peep
    They think about roar
    The thunder they see
    The ATVs they follow
    All the loud sounds
    The people don’t hear
    When buffaloes
    Think

    Christian V. Child
  • Is time on the wing,
    flying away with my life?
    An eagle or a dove, death,
    piercing the chosen moment
    like a knife with a will of its own,
    soaring home,
    dead reckoning,
    straight to the heart.
    I wish we could start over again,
    but only if, knowing when
    the knife would strike,
    we could harness flight,
    ration time,
    and like the buffalo,
    roam wild to the end.

    Penny Gray
  • Nature’s Symphony

    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
  • Cinnamon bison babies
    Sprinkled across the prairie
    And the world delights.

    Mary T Hercher

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