Monday, May 16, 2011

Ballet of Beasts

1874 Sharps borrowed from Bing


Ballet of Beasts

"My own novels, ghost books like BLACKTHORN,
gather pale dust while still in manuscript,
and sadly, there are no worms within or without."
--Glenn Buttkus

1.
Then he became hooves, hooves pounding the hard ground, millions of unshod hooves beating against the prairie, in motion and running like hell; Johnny Eagle on White Bob and Buck on his appaloosa in the musky midst of an angry ocean of humps and horns, a ballet of beasts moving at quarter speed, time condensing in the clenched fist of that dangerous moment, as muscles rippled slowly and one could see the undulating transfer of meat into a slower visual realm, and slower still until flaring nostrils and panicked eyes were frozen just before the cacophony of gunfire; Sharps, Winchesters, Colts, and Spencers, their crackling crescendo out-bellowing the bulls, as that great horde of hair and fear began crashing into the tall grass, skidding in blood, breaking bones as collisions piled up, and near the bottom the leaders were dying quietly in a chorus of death grunts in the distance--and out of the blood mist runs Buck, on foot, making large strides toward the dark mountains with buffalo death thick and visceral, clinging sticky to his soul, with his father on one side of him and the Eagle on the other, his soft Comanche boots barely touching the slick viscus of colonic pain, gun blasts still thundering in his tympanum when he heard his patriarch fall, but he had to run on, resolute, not reach back for the old man, running on, pumping his thick arms, gasping for life, he and Johnny Eagle, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, lungs aching with the running--and then the beautiful eagle fluttered to earth, hitting softly, wing feathers cushioning the impact, one tiny skreee let loose, a last embrace landing light as the big buffalo hunter skidded to a stop, and leaned forward, his thick calloused hands gripping his buckskin clad knees, gasping like a horse ridden hard over alkaline vastness, a race to the red horizon, with the terrible lightning flash of a thousand rifle discharges rolling over him like a summer desert storm--and it became terminally quiet as the woodwind
reeds fluted the bright air about him, making the grass hug him farewell, and fear be damned, for it was time to turn around.

2.
Then he became hooves,
hooves pounding the hard ground,
millions of unshod hooves beating
against the prairie, in motion
and running like hell;
Johnny Eagle on White Bob
and Buck on his appaloosa
in the musky midst
of an angry ocean of humps and horns,
a ballet of beasts moving at quarter speed,
time condensing in the clenched fist
of that dangerous moment,
as muscles rippled slowly
and one could see the undulating
transfer of meat into a slower visual realm,
and slower still until
flaring nostrils and panicked eyes
were frozen just before
the cacophony of gunfire;
Sharps, Winchesters, Colts, and Spencers,
their crackling crescendo out-bellowing the bulls,
as that great horde of hair and fear
began crashing into the tall grass,
skidding in blood,
breaking bones as collisions piled up,
and near the bottom
the leaders were dying quietly
in a chorus of death grunts in the distance--
and out of the blood mist runs Buck, on foot,
making large strides toward the dark mountains
with buffalo death thick and visceral,
clinging sticky to his soul,
with his father on one side of him
and the Eagle on the other,
his soft Comanche boots barely touching
the slick viscus of colonic pain,
gun blasts still thundering in his tympanum
when he heard his patriarch fall,
but he had to run on, resolute,
not reach back for the old man,
running on, pumping his thick arms,
gasping for life, he and Johnny Eagle,
shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip,
lungs aching with the running--
and then the beautiful eagle fluttered to earth,
hitting softly, wing feathers cushioning the impact,
one tiny skreee let loose,
a last embrace landing light
as the big buffalo hunter skidded to a stop,
and leaned forward,
his thick calloused hands gripping
his buckskin clad knees,
gasping like a horse ridden hard
over alkaline vastness,
a race to the red horizon,
with the terrible lightning flash
of a thousand rifle discharges rolling over him
like a summer desert storm--
and it became terminally quiet
as the woodwind reeds fluted the bright air about him,
making the grass hug him farewell,
and fear be damned,
for it was time to turn around.

Glenn Buttkus

October 2010 "revisited"

Listed as #19 over on Magpie Tales 66

Would you like the Author to read this poem to you?

8 comments:

Jingle said...

thoughtful, both prose and poem,

magical ending, very good drama,
thanks for the treat.

Kristen Haskell said...

That was a powerful reading. I am not sure why but Zane Grey and Dances with Wolves came to mind as I listened.

Friko said...

You have the most poetic language; there is a flow as of honey, a rainbow of colours and sounds like the wind racing over a great plain.

Where do you find these words?

jen revved said...

amazing-- so detailed, compelling. I'm a Western girl and of course, resonance; my mother's pioneer family had Winchesters...xxxj

Brigid said...

Such a feast of words, powerful Magpie.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Brilliant. The imagery was perfect - I could see it and hear it in my mind.

Anna :o]

Mary said...

You're writing is amazing...

Mary said...

'...an angry ocean of humps and horns...' that is such a great line. There are plenty of others too, but I like the image of the ocean waves. There are a lot of cattle in my little corner of nowhere, and your description is just right.