Month: April 2012

Ready to Move

The house is prepared for sale.

The dog sleeps
in the kitchen.
The couch, another animal, claims
the north living room wall.
The bedroom warms a futon.

The engine beast
waits outside.
On the stereo, Janis Joplin
gives gender to the meaning
of Mercedez Benz.

Out back, two clumps of birch
clutch at night’s praises
like actors emptied of lines
and out of work.

— Steve Kline
March 1986


The Buffalo Hunter Grants an Interview from Hell

by W. McGlothing | Liberal, Kansas

— J. Wright Mooar killed the last albino buffalo on the West Texas plains near present day Snyder, Texas, on October 7, 1876. Every October, the town celebrates.

Tell you what I think about
White Buffalo Days? I surely will.
Trashtown idolatry, that’s what.
Famous white buffalo? I’m the one
who’s famous.
Rare white buffalo? Well, meat’s
meat and rare’s for eating
meat. Last white
buffalo? It was
white all right, big and
white around as my old woman’s
eyes when I’d come
home from two or three
months on hunt. Feared
my instincts, she did, said I kissed
like death and smelt
worse. Made me all the more
attractive’s what I used to answer back.

So you’d think a man with my numbers
ought to get a statue of his
self, not some buff dumber than an
Indian and white enough a
one-eyed Mex could kill it half a mile.
Twenty thousand in my time.
Can you see ‘em? What a glory!
Drop a hundred in one stand.
Center shot, they just collapse,
ton of meat come crashing to the sand.
Excepting one I didn’t see
at first.

In their midst it was,
reflecting silver, hid among
a thousand shadows.
I notched it, fired,
and it too
What I had was
luck and smoke,
and such a piece
I think I might have
seen it fall.
I know I couldn’t
hear a sound.
My head was
too much thunder.

Enough of that.
’76 I brought my
snowy target home
scrubbed clean,
the single hole
my baby’s fist
could fit.

And after then,
I was that town.
I sat my horse erect
til I was almost eighty-eight.
1940, playing Santa, snowy beard and all,
I fell.
I woke up here.

Now you ask me questions I don’t know.

This I do:

That town’s football team
they named the Tigers.
Today in ceremony,
bronze replaces fiberglass, and
that new buff on the square, it
couldn’t even be a bull.
Then they go and paint it white.

My buff was mighty white all right,
a fearful simple shot
was all I thought.
If I thought at all.

I hear it even now.
And when I look again,
a slug of star shoots into
no moon midnight,
and then a burning moon
wide full, flailing
clouds a’trailing out her side.

No one ever told me
she was god.


She is one of the lake’s old ones.
Any more, she is not much for talking.
But listen hard when she does
and learn what failed to break her.

Black Kettle’s blood under the Full Beaver Moon.
The year of rubbing out Long Hair
when we took his guns and ponies.
How the Ghost Dancers
tricked you bad-heart wasichu
making forfeit your souls.
Look all around you. Still you are choking,
and not yet dead.

She was ancient when you crossed the Ayuhwasi.
She will remember you.

— Steve Kline
April 24, 2012

Image and words Copyright © 2012 Steve Kline

Father’s Day

Mark Madoff, the son of Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, was found dead Saturday in his New York City apartment of an apparent suicide, according to a law enforcement source.

— CNN, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010

 The news sites are aflame this morning

With word of Mark Madoff, Bernie’s son,

Dead. Family members found his body

Hanging in his apartment. Post after post after comment after post

All this weekend’s venom pouring and sizzling and crackling out there

And sadness. It lies cold and limp.


“Way to go, Dad.”


And Bernie? You

Wonder if some ragged ripping memory

Of tucking in or playing catch or

Any old ache

Makes its way into the cell this morning. And you think

No, I bet Bernie’s finishing breakfast, thinking

For the billionth time,

“How much does it cost to get out of going through this?”


Steve Kline

Sleep Unwinding

Each morning’s mirror holds
the simple gash of recognition.
A white look of wide-eyed birth.

Snow again. Sleep unwinding
its ball of bird’s nerves,
dividing dreams from dense day.

Each footfall has memorized itself.
The sleaved heart that nicks night along
softens like a ripe berry,

quickens to the scaffold
of spangling tasks, starlengths
from here, where a sun spatters

rimless beads of rising pink,
courts sister dawn, and shreds itself
on novice air.

— Steve Kline