A cigarette flicked at responsibility
from a passing car window
skids across the roadside sand and gravel
to come to rest upon the slope of an ant hill,
not far from my booted foot
and the dry buffalo grass
that creates wind-driven whorls
around a faceless quarter
without a band of lesser metal
visible from a sideways angle.
If all the people of the world died overnight,
all the American buffalo left in the world
would have to relearn how to be true buffalo
and how to migrate north to south and south to north
along the great plains that would eventually return to grass
from fields of modern wheat and corn.
That is if the American buffalo ever figured out
that they do not belong all year in mountainous places
like the Tetons and Yellowstone.
Maybe they have some ancestral memory
locked behind those thick skulls
of grazing along the Delaware river
and by the gulf in the Florida panhandle.
Leon dreams John Wayne shooting him
through the head
at eight hundred and seventy two yards
with a Henry rifle—
not a Winchester,
not a Spencer,
not a Sharps.
Only John Wayne in a Hollywood movie
could make that shot.
Last night it was Humphrey Bogart
with a snub nose thirty-eight,
up close and personal
to liberate an encaged black bird.
The night before that, Errol Flynn
on the Santa Fe Trail
on horse back, at a full gallop,
with a Colt revolver.
Leon prefers his death dream
bullet passing through his skull
to be fired by some anonymous source,
not his black and white Hollywood heroes
garnered from too many hours
watching Turner Classic Movies
with a twelve pack and two bags of chips.
Maybe tonight it will be sharpshooting Annie Oakley
as played by Barbara Stanwyck
who splatters his brains across Buffalo Bill’s
Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders.
Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne. His latest collection of poems is Stump Speech (2015). He started up the poetry blog Watermelon Isotope. His personal website is at kpgurney.me.