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Tatanka: Poetry Inspired by a Billy Buc Photo


I’ve enjoyed writing for many years. I'm dedicating more time to the craft in my retirement days.

A Billy Buc Picture Prompt

In a recent edition of the weekly Mailbag, Bill Holland put forth the picture below with this challenge:

"My last picture prompt was not too popular (composting toilet, anyone?), so let’s see what you can do with this photo. One paragraph of your absolute best creative writing, please."

This short poem is my answer to that challenge. Hope you enjoy it, and thanks to Bill for putting this out there.

Here's the Picture...



It’s not lore

It’s much more

Like gore

Because it’s true

That I once roamed

In numbers

Bigger than you could ignore

An earthly roar

Would shake the ground

The cacophonic sound

Spread round and round

When we moved with speed together




Of us

And more

A loud part

At the start

Of a more peaceful time

That didn’t end that way

In days

Before covered wagons

And trains

Came this way

From an eastern shore

And long, long and long before


And Planes

These plains

Were my home

Our home

Things with wheels

And humming, roaring motors

Were not here

Moving along

These winding bands of gravel

And stone

And petroleum

That used to reside

On the underside

As aged planktons

And greens

That left the scene

Predating days when my loveable face

Graced this place

Put here

To sustain



With those who lived

In measured harmony

With the land

And all upon it

But the balance



Went askew

As Sharps arrived

With shooters

I almost left this place

For good

Or for ill, rather

But no matter

I’m still here

In sizeable numbers

And I am big and black

And a deep, beautiful brown

I am a part of this place

Always have been

‘Tis where I belong

Always will be

I know


I have been here

With the red

Since well before

The white

Came wearing


And then my skins, too

Which turned to currency

Then primacy


Do away with me

Get at someone else

Move pawn

On board

Sow discord

Let it manifest



I now be

A celebrity

Kind of a king

Proud to say

I have a day

And an Act

Renowned thusly


For my history

Tied economically

And spiritually

In perpetuity

Tatanka, I be

And shall remain

Once again

And forever more

Bison in Custer State Park, South Dakota

Bison in Custer State Park, South Dakota

© 2021 greg cain


greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on June 19, 2021:

Hi Rodric - thanks again for that. If it had not been for the movie "Dances with Wolves" I'd not ever have learned the word, I'm afraid. But it featured prominently in that wonderful, sad, compelling story. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out, I think. It's a Kevin Costner film.

I think we all continue learning every day, don't we? I know I try to, and it's a gratifying thing when we can help others do the same. Be well, and hope you have a wonderful weekend, Rodric.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on June 19, 2021:

Bill - yes, indeed, the feed thing can be frustrating at times. Your e-mail was received and appreciated, friend. Always good to hear from you, and I do appreciate the kind words. Have a great weekend, and thanks again for the bison pic prompt.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on June 18, 2021:

I saw that you added Tatanka! Good for you. I am so honored you took my suggestion. I love that word rather than bison because of the power that it commands. Also, thank you for the lesson. I learned something new each time I read poems, I think.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2021:

Here it is. Of course it appears after I send you an email. Well, I'm not going to repeat it all, other than to say I loved it.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on June 17, 2021:

Rodric - one of the things about poetry is that if there are rules, not many people follow them. I personally think styles are different than rules, and that is where many people differentiate themselves. The iambic pentameter type of poetry is most familiar, I think, and that’s probably what most of us remember when we memorize and recite poetry. But…Cummings made stretching syntax and punctuation rules a thing, really a large part of his craft. And though he was scoffed at by many in his day, his works endure and his name is commonplace among recognized/recognizable poets. I’m no e.e., mind you, but I have enjoyed many of his writings…he wrote a great, famous poem about Buffalo Bill himself. It’s a fine example of punctuation and spacing and creative thought gone wild. You can check it out in multiple places on line.

Thanks for stopping by to give it a look, my friend. And BTW, I added the name Tatanka to the first paragraph intro based on your comment. Thanks, and hope you have yourself a great weekend.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on June 17, 2021:

John - yes, it is good to see so many when you visit places like Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. They are some weird and wonderful creatures!

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on June 17, 2021:

Brenda - good to see you, and thanks for the words. Hope all is well, my friend.

greg cain (author) from Moscow, Idaho, USA on June 17, 2021:

Thanks, Mishnah. Blessings and peace to you, as well.

Rodric Anthony Johnson from Surprise, Arizona on June 16, 2021:

The bison perspective was unexpected and enjoyable. Thanks for sharing this poem. I am still getting used to poems and their different forms. I still don't understand the rules or lack of rules, but I like how punctuation did not seem to matter as much as the flow of your message through the bison. I love the word Tatanka. I had to look it up to find out its meaning. That would have been a great title for this poem.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 16, 2021:

A wonderful response to Bill’s photo prompt. Good to see bison beginning to flourish again…or at least start to recover their numbers. Nice work, Greg.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 16, 2021:

Interesting take on Bill's photo prompt.

Great write.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 16, 2021:

Greg, your poem in response to Mr. Bill's photo prompt is fantastic.

I enjoyed a lot. Thanks for sharing

Blessings and Peace

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