Killing Chickens

Never mind what you think.
The old man did not rush
Recklessly into the coop the last minute.
The chickens hardly stirred
For the easy way he sang to them.
Red sun is burning out
Past slag heaps of the mill. The old man
Touches the blade of his killing knife
With his fat thumb.
I’ m in the backyard on a quilt
Spread out under the heavy dark plums
He cooks for his whiskey.

Horses in Snow

They are a gift I have wanted again.
Wanted: One moment in mountains
when winter got so cold
the oil froze before it could burn.
I chopped ferns of hoarfrost from all the windows
and peered up at pines, a wedding cake
by a baker gone mad. Swirls by the thousand
shimmered above me until a cloud
lumbered over a ridge,
bringing the heavier white of more flurries.

International Hour of Prayer for the Yellowstone Buffalo Herd

From morning’ s mouth
the bones emerge,
a prayer is whispered
over rounded horns;
the prairie is beyond
the quivering hump
and holy smoke sparkles
released in the breath.
Braided sweetgrass,
be about their hooves;
although the grip of hunger
lies heavy on the land,
let endless native grasses grow
among the yellow stones
and between the stars.
Even if only one man had
begun to sing, actually
it was thousands, She who came
to Wisconsin farmers
and transformed their lives,