Yes, kids, I saw the last of the
Stop running around and listen
Your old man remembers
What you will not see
Crowding each other in huge herds
Their roar would arrive long before them
And yes, their smell would, too
The ground everywhere would tremble
From their mad stampede.
Ah! How I was scared by the thought
Of being caught among those beasts
In that wild rush of theirs
Especially late in the afternoon
Anywhere round the beltway
Bumper to bumper
Crowding each other.
Day after day you could watch them
An endless stream, hellbent on a purpose
Never ceasing its flow.
How impressive, how huge were those herds
Of the buffalo!
And the passenger pigeons in their thousands
I remember once taking a pigeon
As a passenger (of course)
But that's a different story.
And all of a sudden, it seemed
They were gone
Weeds grow untroubled
Where they once had pounded the ground.
People said it was the Shortage
That did them in
No more gas.
Eh? What was that?
Did I mean "grass"?
Have it your way, my memory's patchy
Grass or gas. Whatever it was
That kept those beasts moving
Oh, you can still watch them sometimes
Small flocks on public display
Safe behind fences
In city parks and suchlike places
Put there, so you kids might imagine
What happened before your time.
But how can you ever sense
That awesome rush, day in and day out
Honking and hooting
There never will be
Anything like them again.
4 June 1978
Author and Curator: Dr. David P. Stern
Mail to Dr.Stern: david("at" symbol)phy6.org .
Last updated 15 May 2002