Today's poem is by David Roderick
Advertisement for the Ford Explorer
for Mark Warburton
Both bumper and bison's horns point west
toward a blue range blurred in the distance,
which means that I'm to believe buying
an Explorer will validate my American character,
my ride humming with horsepower, a steel
coach to connote the grandeur of the bison.
But the bison is a stupid animal, the thin line
of drool hanging from its muzzle was airbrushed
out of the picture and is now just a patch of grass,
grass it would eat if permitted by the photographer
and team of bison-handlers just out of view.
The Explorer looks glossy and new, of course,
for it was just helicoptered from a dealership
to the butte-top and buffed by professionals
who specialize in automotive makeovers.
The bison looks worn by comparison, its dun
muzzle of curls, its horns blunt with use,
which makes me think that we are animals
more stupid than the bison, we who shot them
from horses and trains for target practice:
men who howled and poured gin, who aimed
their rifles and swapped bills as bison
fell with muffled grunts along the prairies.
It is strange how "progress" exterminated the bison
from this land, transformed it into a victim
of its own dumb nature, an ideal American emblem.
I would like to choose the bison over the Ford Explorer
(which is my birthright as an American shopper),
and I would pet the poor beast, whisper to him,
lead him away from his handlers and photographers.
I would walk him home to my garage and hose
down his back, wax his horns, shoo away boys
who glide by on their bikes and take aim at him
with guns made from their thumbs and index fingers,
squinting eyes, hammers snapped with a pow.
"Dominating the Field," states the ad for the Ford Explorer,
but I doubt that the bison ever thought to dominate
anything other than the patch of grass beneath it.
My bison just wants to stand in my suburban yard,
out of focus, odd among the tiny starlet clovers,
grunting and drooling and glad for his simple life.
Copyright © 2002 David Roderick All rights reserved
from River Styx
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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