“Goodbye, my son”

said the old bison

to his beloved calf.

“Worry not, I shall return”

He reassured him with a laugh.


Then with a mighty heave,

He turned to leave

For the ancient mountain road.

He was setting out in search

Of the holy bison code.


The sacred code of his people,

Dwelled within a mountain steeple

Somewhere far into the west

Where only the bravest

Dared make the quest.


“But, Papa, I’m scared!”

The young calf blared

“It’s cold out there and wet.

Can’t you stay a while longer?

Please, don’t leave just yet.”


But the calf’s faint wail

Had been caught by a gale,

And his words were blown far north.

So, he sadly stared at Papa

Who’d gone boldly marching forth.


“A humble pilgrim now am I”

Papa snorted with a sigh

As he trudged amidst the snow.

A great journey lay before him

Beyond the sunset’s glow.


Papa roamed across the plains

Conviction burning in his veins

As he pushed through mud and frost.

His hooves grew sore

And his mane, wind-tossed.


Papa struggled over crags and tail,

Ever onward, through sleet and hail.

He hiked along Sawtooth Ravine

Whose frozen lake

Caught the moon’s pale sheen.


Papa wore a driven fashion

Warding off a creeping passion

To simply turn around.

But with his stubborn pace

The bison’s fate was bound.


Step by step, Papa marched on,

Only stopping to watch the dawn.

And when, at last, he spied the peak

Of the sacred shrine

A lone tear fell from his cheek.


In all his life, he never believed

That this crusade could be achieved.

Yet there he was, proudly standing

At the rocky foot

Of the mountain’s landing.


Then Papa scaled great steps of ice

With fatigue shaking him more than twice.

Cresting the top, with aching bones

He conceded to rest

On nearby stones.


Papa relaxed against a heap,

Wanting desperately to fall asleep

When, all at once, the rocks came apart

Exposing a passage

To the mountain’s heart.


As Papa cautiously snuck inside

Jagged walls scraped his hide.

A putrid air met his nose

The source of which

He dared not suppose.


The heavy fall of Papa’s gait

Carried him further down cold slate

Into the murk of a solemn room

Which Papa took

For the shrine’s old tomb.


Great bison skulls lined the aisles

Staring at Papa with horrid smiles

This eerie display of kindred death

Made Papa tremble

With shallow breath.


“Wherefore comes such a burial place?”

Papa growled with a knotted face

He scanned the room with tired eyes

And was shocked to find

His long-sought-for prize.


Spread across an unkept altar

Lay the famous parchment psalter.

Papa approached with cautious fright

To read from the code

And unravel this sight.


But when Papa’s study was concluded

He realized he’d been deluded

The code he had pined for was a lie:

“All bison drawn here

Are condemned to die.”


“Deranged elders of an ancient clan

Years ago devised a plan

To use this mountain as their snare

And slaughter rovers

In violent prayer.”


While those words rolled off his tongue

A deadly trap was quickly sprung.

Hidden ropes soon grew taught

And in a flash

His legs were caught.


Papa started kicking and sweating

Desperately trying to escape the netting.

But, lurid blades then shot from a wall

And carved his flesh

With a razor-sharp squall.


Papa dangled above the floor

His body sopping with blood and gore.

He gasped for breath one final time

And was able to mutter

“Oh, son, I’m –”


But his lungs gave out as he cried

And soon enough Papa died.

His body grew pale and cold;

As his bones were added

To the Hall of the Bold.



Ross Destiche is a graduate of the University of MN, with a BFA in Acting. Originally from Minneapolis, he currently lives in the Washington DC area as a professional actor and poet. Ross will find inspiration for his work at the most inconvenient of times, most often just before sleep. Other published pieces can be found at Miller’s Pond, The Legendary, and BlogNostics. His professional website is

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