by David P. Stern


    Yes, kids, I saw the last of the
    Come now
    Stop running around and listen
    Your old man remembers
    What you will not see
    Any more.
    Snorting, bellowing
    Grinding, jostling
    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
    Snorting, bellowing
    Grinding, jostling
    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
    Wheeled above
    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
    Was gone.

    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
    Screeching, polluting?
    There never will be
    Anything like them again.

                                        4 June 1978



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Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
     Mail to Dr.Stern:   david("at" symbol)phy6.org .

Last updated 15 May 2002