poem: buffalo soldier

Note: During and after the Civil War, it is believed that at least 400 women disguised as men to serve in the military. Few were discovered in their lifetime.

Every battle we have, I keep thinkin’, we shootin’ the wrong people. These Indians done nothin’ to us. I don’t know why I’m here, but the Civil War’s barely over, they only let us off the plantation eight years ago and I’m still waitin’ for ’em to change their minds. Ol’ Massa Johnson, his face still soils my eyes, so every time I fire this Colt revolver it’s Johnson fallin’ down. His face splits so clean it feels like apology, like beggin’. I’ve killed 37 men and his mouth don’t shut.

I get a little cross with Charlie sometimes, he laughs at me in that liltin’ voice and tells me I’m bitter, says bitter is poison, I tell him that’s what happens when you’re bit by a snake, he say that’s when I’m s’pposed to spit it out. His gentle voice cools me. That softness in the eyes. We first got close talkin’ ’bout our horses. Charlie’s eyes would shiver as I told him how years back I learned to break ’em gentle. I told him trust is what opened ’em, what kept me on a horse when ain’t no time for a saddle. It was a bit unsettlin’ to realize my first love was a mare.

Three months before my contract’s up, I steal away to bathe in the river, in the drowsy of night. The water shocks me, soft, and I look up to see Charlie. He’s lookin’ at me like he’s seen somethin’ new, untouched, and he undoes his cloth. Standing in front of me with nothin’ but skin…she smiles as her breasts cradle what’s left of the light. She say, if I had my way I’d chew you up right now.
But I tend to get loud.
Wouldn’t work out.

We said nothin’ about it after.
But it wadn’t long before they knew. She got sick. Medic found out. Discharged, no pension.
I ain’t know ’bout the diabetes.

I ask for furlough and finally find her in a little town west of Amarillo. Used all her savings for this lil’ place. Most her right leg’s gone.

Four nights in, I wake up to a beatin’ sound, find her bangin’ her head into the floor. I grab her in my arms, she screamin’, won’t let up. Finally mumbles, I can’t ride my horse.

I set her in bed, boil some water for her bathin’ bucket. I wake her up, lay her down.

She whisper, you only here ’cause I’m a woman.
I say, hell I wanted you before I knew.
Which was confusin’

She say, don’t ever save me again. I know when I’ve had enough.
I say, I won’t but I swear…I feel like I forgive somethin’ every time you wake up.

I wash her into quiet.
We pretend to sleep.

Ain’t no saddle here, boy.
I know. I know.


3 thoughts on “poem: buffalo soldier

  1. Keep telling that history:

    Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, where Buffalo Bill Cody meets a Buffalo Soldier, the greatest fictionalized ‘historical novel’ ever written. A great story of Black Military History, the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers. The website is; http://www.rescueatpineridge.com This is the greatest story of Black Military History…5 stars Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Youtube commercials are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD66NUKmZPs and

    Rescue at Pine Ridge is the story of the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn’t for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

    This story is about, brutality, compassion, reprisal, bravery, heroism and gallantry.

    I know you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote the story that embodied the Native Americans, Outlaws and African-American/Black Soldiers, from the south to the north, in the days of the Native American Wars with the approaching United States of America.

    The novel was taken from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn’t like telling our stories…its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman, James Whitmore Jr. and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see imdb.com at; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0925633/

    When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for the United States Postal System in Montana, in the 1890’s, “spread the word”.


  2. Renee Jackson says:

    This is great! Everyone is enriched when ALL of American History is told! With Bill Duke directing, it will be done justice. Thanks!! Oh, on youtube there is a film clip called Buffalo Soldiers that features white renegade soldiers in modern times. Stealing and rewriting history…again….!

    I have not heard of Stagecoach Mary or any women of any race delivering mail in the 1800’s. Please share where we can learn more about her.

    God bless,

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