Basketball at Stony Mountain Pen
They said prisoner 103 did not know God.
No one at Stony Mountain curious
enough to ask. They hung
six Young Men. At night Big Bear
dreamed, no buffalo left, his religion none.
He died on Cutknife Hill.
Six barbed wire strands protect this field
where yearling buffalos rest.
The night hums with metal halide lights.
The name of Big Bear’s mother,
absent from books, nameless.
He died in the open where no buffalo survived.
Engels called his spaniel Nameless
and the bitch barked at wealth. Cree dogs knew
they must bark at some white men only.
The white God was always angry, shouting
like six whisky traders in the Cypress Hills
as they raped and killed.
What good choices left for men of commerce?
Marx and Engels called this a specter
and the words of Treaty Six are madder
than King George. The sacred stone went east
on a shrieking cart, and Big Bear languished
as the snow blew on Cutknife Hill.
When Big Bear had smallpox and open sores
he said I’m lucky I can’t see. Years later
he was snow-blind and again, nothing.
They had no seed for the field.
The young men angry and they knew that
rope and gun would follow them in the dark.
At Stony Mountain the home team never leaves,
a giant named Bear goes for the ball,
he shoves me, I hug that stone-floor fieldhouse
built in the teeth of wind and snow.
At the free throw line I hear the cons yell
Fuck you, four eyes! And we lose.
From CNQ 95 (Spring 2016)