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The Buffalo Hunter

By John I. Blair

In 1859, when he turned twenty three,
James Mead headed west to Kansas
To hunt buffalo, he said.

Kansas looked as different from Vermont
As cottonwoods from sugar maples,
Teepee poles from steeples.

The black soil hid no boulders,
The prairies had no edges,
Skies no crowding mountains,

And the buffalo were easy picking;
But James brought dreams
Hed nurtured in New England.

He dreamed a city
With factories and stores,
Riverboats and railroads.

He dreamed lawns and parks,
Mansions, churches, schools.
And his dreams were strong,

So strong the town took form
There on the sun-baked flats
Beside the Arkansas.

And there among the sunflowers
And the prairie grass,
The Indians, drovers, cattle,

The muddy trails, the dust,
He raised his house with mansard roof,
Bay windows, brick-built walls.

Too soon. Banks were closed,
Notes called in. His dream corroded.
At thirty-six hed failed.

And though he rose again, by then
The prairies had been bounded,
The buffalo were memories,

And no one could recall
What dreams there might have been
More suitable for Kansas dreamers.

2006 John I. Blair


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