A NARROW TRAIL
Warm with rain, morning arrives,
cloaking red earth, yellow grass,
turning a hunter’s ravine copper in the dawning light.
Elk, mule deer, antelope water at the lake,
magpie and mockingbird call across a juniper grove.
Sans Arc Sioux sleep on the far side.
At Fort Lincoln, a Forsyth scout
pays fifty dollars for a Spencer repeater,
nine bucks for good Remington revolver.
With a buckskin horse made for the long country
I range the Powder River, the Bighorn Mountains,
marking trail for Three Stars Crook.
I look for settling sign of Cheyenne and Oglala,
for sign of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.
Custer paid the 7th on the march.
Army paper still floats and flutters along the Rosebud.
Wolves scatter what Gibbon’s detail left half-done:
death stakes marked on a map,
officers buried inches deep,
troopers covered by hasty heaps of dust or pine bough.
I sweep through the late summer hills,
scraps of money secured in my saddle bags.
Not friendly—but not who I search for,
I’ll leave this tribe for another rider, another regiment.
Working wide and northwest
I’ll try the creek-run meadows beyond Harney Peak.
Cook fires blaze up. A dog’s bark carries, high and thin.
I’ll leave them busy with their muffled, waking day.
RT Castleberry has appeared in ‘Merica Magazine, Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, The Alembic, Pacific Review, RiverSedge and Caveat Lector, among other journals. I am a co-founder of the Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe, co-editor/publisher of the poetry magazine Curbside Review, an assistant editor for Lily Poetry Review and Ardent My work has been featured in the anthologies Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice and The Weight of Addition. My chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011