MÉTIS - Sonnet L'Abbé Poems


Poems » sonnet l abbe » m eacute tis


Speak the great names: Fort Qu'Appelle,
St Isidore de Bellevue, Grand Coteau,
Batoche, Fort Walsh, Frog Lake and Cut Knife Hill,
Seven Oaks and the rest of Rupert's Land,
and say what lies there between: bones
the wind gives back, bones of buffalo, bones
of the hunters, bones of Blackfoot, Cree and Blood,
the prairie piled white with hunts, all
bone brothers under sun. Name
me, Gabriel, king of this bare kingdom

of bones, riding and riding through white remains.
Name me, Gabriel, hero of the Wild
West of Buffalo Bill, hero of the great
Staten Island shoot out, me and Le
Petit, killers of little blue balls,
riding and riding through pictures of sage brush and sky,
fighting with clocks beneath the electric sun,
never as we used to fight, waiting,
talking, never arriving though miles and miles
of coulee and plain. And now where the prairie was

Sitting Bull and I and faces in the dark
square off, Chief of the great Hunkpapa Lakota,
dazed in the painted flats, and I, calling,
calling: God, will they find us, lost in faces,
before we stop forever, smiling in a glass
cage, where rivers stop, and birds hang
on the sky never moving? My smile is glass.
Everything lies inside me: buffalo run
to ground, streets I never saw where the elms
line faces singing white, singing

"The Stars and Stripes Forever," waiting for wars
and other shows at the town's end. They see
me, Gabriel, and see a war that hardly
was, a circus war so put off we almost
missed the last call. Dummies I gave
them to save my friends, men stuffed like the great
chief and I who drift slowly through places
and then through names where hundreds walk to gaze
and conjure us. Speak the names -- me, Gabriel,
a clock ticking to an abandoned house.