Tag Archives: buffalo

Before The Wire

My head hurts. Defense Department robots cruising space raising dead satellites from the grave, 75 trillion dollars of toxic assets in the FDIC, and the Sec of State threatening to sic the drones on whoever might be listening. And this just the tip of the proverbial non-melting iceberg due to non-existent global warming. So I’m going to recommend a book for those whose heads also hurt. It is magnificent, beautifully written, and it happened a hundred and fifty years ago, in a different age and to a different people. I refer to Empire Of The Summer Moon, by S. C. Gwynne, the story of the rise and fall of the Comanches, the finest light cavalry on the planet, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. It has it all: Texas, Comanches, a captured 9 year old white girl named Cynthia Ann Parker who is raised by the Comanches, marries a chief and gives birth to Quanah Parker, who grows up to be the last great Comanche war chief. It begins with the Texans and the US Army losing the technology fight with the Indians, rapid fire arrows against single shot muzzle loaders, and ends with the defeat of the Comanches by the Texans and Army armed with repeating rifles and revolvers. Sometimes bravery just isn’t enough.



If I could climb to the top of the world

And see the past and all that was

I’d want to see the western plains

Before the wire.

The buffalo in their vast herds

So many that the dust lay thick

In air that would admit no sun

Before the wire.

Horse tribes wandering the knee high grass

Travois dragging all they owned behind

Horse herds all the wealth they cared for

Before the wire.

Villages along the streams

Raiding parties setting out

Painted dancers, fire lit

Before the wire.

The scene grows dim from the top of the world

The buffalo, Comanche fade

‘Til all is gently waving grass

Before the wire


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