Will Shootman

Hide of the Last Buffalo

There’s a sweetness in the ivory gaslight and its chemical shimmer

There’s a life in every oily drop under the sole of my shoe


At the Pump staring at the gauge

Fat roar of a metal toad pulling up behind the partition

And the seat rises

And a man gets to his feet

Jeans tucked into his tired leather boots

Hide of the last buffalo

Four jackets to chain in the warmth and a broad hat to make the sun squint to see his face

Beard so wide it could hide every northern secret that wouldn’t thaw out come springtime

Navajo blanket bundled under the handlebars

A nomad breathing steam


We walked inside separately though both to buy cigarettes

He went to his bike and I-

I stopped him

And said

I don’t know who you are

And I don’t know your story

But I appreciate you-

What you got goin’ on here

And he gave an honest laugh

And looked out at something invisible

And then at me

Well It’s a fucked up story

I grinned and got in my car

Aren’t they all?

He nodded and we parted like that

And driving away from the pump I couldn’t control the welling up in my chest so that I felt I was going to burst

And I pounded on the sunroof and the steering wheel and pulled off the road

I know I’m stuck

Bound down

Building a nest

Insuring the nest

Renting the nest

Billing the nest

Writing off the nest

And I know he’s out there

Sleeping under the night sky for me

A man with worries and pain all his own and scars so intense you could smell them

But he’s sleeping under the stars for me

And I shed a tear for him

For me

For my pity

And for envy

That he can truthfully tell the world it can go fuck itself with its stipulations and contracts and requisites and commitments and just go and never come back

Ride out to kiss the dying sun and lay down in the fire to be born again every icy morning


Daring all of hell to trail behind

They’ll never catch him


  • Louis Gibbs

    This is a classic ... a true beauty ... a tribute to the man who symbolizes the freedom and independence all men caught up in their very respectable routines admire ... wish they could be instead of ... but know they will never be ... because of the choices they've made. Magnificent write, Will!

    • Will Shootman

      thank you. this was a real moment that happened outside of Minneapolis earlier this year. sticks with me to this day

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