Tyson West and Elizabeth Akin Stelling

Inspiration Piece by Tyson West

The Prairie Has Evolved
Response Piece
by Elizabeth Akin Stelling

The season for a last ride off Wolf Range pulls
an old vaquero from the sideline, out of sight.

“Old days are coming to an end and this…

why the whole darn thang…

Children, and their children wilt see no spiritual vision
recalled in the law of the gun,
to disbelief,
they spit on ancient instinct.

Occasional gum-shoe gesturing toward forests,
mountain range,
looking to lay ground buffalo
and elk grazed its outline, to cue

lingering proof of human frailty hung on the fringe of innocent times.

It’s too rich for my blood.”

With a small wince from the strength of the sun
he hobbled on, but looked back one last time

out across the freshly poured concrete prairie.

There is new myth to the frontier: it’s spilt blood


and desperation pull riders from the saddle.

Shoulders hunched, against chill of the downdraft
from twin peaks off the ridge of horizon.

All blows in, over great clatter of progress beyond sights.

A good white dust now inhabit the upper regions a good way off.

In other directions,
thieves and mirage have always played tricks to the aging.

It’ll kinda leave you wishing a cloud of smoke

would swallow everything all up,

instead of what careless gallop has to offer
when one turns a blind cheek.

More than missing— piled upon, were the

shooting star, brome and bottle brush, riverbank rye, and Indian grass.

Once they sway, inspiring a man’s fancy
when looking upon a woman as she graced prosperous gains,

exchanging it for strong conviction of perilous loss.

Everybody wants community, to build.

Everybody wants to own a piece of serenity’s eye.

Optimism thread the needle of success, even tolerate sod floors
in weak plywood shanties,

along with falsehood and a cold hard ground.
Now, with the last bit of solitude beneath the boot, what’s left

after one lays down and breathes no more.