Horse Tracks: Stillwater River

from “Roses for the Matador”

On a flat top along the Stillwater
Toward where it is winter all of the time,
From the Bear Tooth Mountains,
a mighty buffalo bull is slowing toward death,
Many arrows are sticking out of his massive body,
Stands waiting to charge as he sticks his
Bloody tongue up his nostrils, waves his tail, straight up.

Henry Real Bird. Horse Tracks. Sand Point, Idaho: Lost Horse Press, 2010.

About the Book

Horse Tracks

Real Bird has been working with the YMCA Writer’s Voice since 1992 as a visiting poet and has shared his work and the Crow language with thousands of students and teachers across Montana. In 1996 he won the Western Heritage Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, and he performs annually at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada. He has published six collections of poetry and his work has been widely anthologized. From 2009 to 2011 Real Bird served as Montana’s Poet Laureate.

In 2010 Henry Real Bird was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss his unique experience as Poet Laureate. Listen here.

While the settings in Horse Tracks clearly reference actual locales, it is understood that the book—including its places—is ultimately the product of the author’s imagination. The intent of this literary map is to enrich the reading experience by interpreting those places, not to render them literally or definitively.

About the Author

Henry Real Bird

Henry Real Bird is a rancher and educator who raises bucking horses on Yellow Leggings Creek in the Wolf Teeth Mountains. He was born and raised on the Crow Indian Reservation in the Crow tradition, and he still speaks Crow as his primary language. Real Bird holds a Master’s Degree in general education from MSU Billings; over the years he has punched cows, worked in rodeos, and taught school from Kindergarten to college level. He began writing poetry in 1969.