Poems ©1987

by Roger Dunsmore

Selected by the Yellowstone Art Center, Billings, Montana, for their Regional Writer's Project. "to promote fine writing about Montana, the Dakotas, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming."

Deerlodge (Montana State Prison)

Unit A is half an hour late:
a butcher knife turned up missing in the kitchen
We watch a movie:
Kalahari Bushmen hunting giraffe.
Paul Bad Horse says,
Why didn't they tame those zebras?
They had our ways
only not so advanced,
and no horses.
If they'd tame those zebras
their lives would be easier.

David laughs:
me and my partner up in Kalispell,
we had a zonie,
half zebra, half horse.
Tried to tear the corral down
to get at our stud.
We put the kid on him,
hell he was no kid, eighteen years old.
It threw him,
tried to kill him.
Wildest thing I ever seen.
Maybe those Bushmen knew about zebras.
Bad Horse -
Did you try friendly first?
Yep. didn't make no difference.
Finally sold him for dog food
after he went for some kids by the corral.
He was just plain wild - that's all.

Bad Horse laughs
Hell, that's what got me in here in the first place,
that wildness.

Someone asks,
What do you mean?
Wild like a Hell's Angel
or wild like an animal?

Joe Youpee says,
I never saw a person that was truly wild,
not like a deer anyways,
the way a deer
when you're trying to sneak up on him
will all of a sudden lift its head and see you.
That's wild.
You can sneak up on a man.

Dave says,
I'll bet if one of us escaped from here
and they were hunting us on the divide
we'd have a lot of that back -
like that deer.
They wouldn't sneak up on me.