Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve


The coven of bison
          brought here as wishes
                    bore 80 million calves
                              in a year

                              This was the epicenter of the nursery
                              of the palace of the monument
                              of the battlefield
of the resurrection of the biome—

170 million acres aggressively
                                      self-returfing &
            a new state slogan:

                        AD ASTRA
                        THE TALL GRASS
                                 PER ASPERA
                                 ITS REVENGE

The public-private partnership1
          was lesser prairie chickens & very large cats.

Even the sky could hear the wolves returning.
The grasshoppers were strategists. 
The Koch brothers melted plows.


1 After decades of contention between park advocates and local agribusiness activists, in 1996 a unique public-private partnership was formed to create a tallgrass prairie preserve in Kansas on one of the few undisturbed patches of tallgrass prairie left in North America. In less than a decade, the park fell onto hard times as the private wing of the mostly private public-private partnership could no longer financially sustain it. The preserve looked like it was going to have to be sold. Then the Nature Conservatory, led by a former managing director of Goldman Sachs and assisted by a $1 million dollar gift from Wichita's Koch brothers, took over. They introduced thirteen bison to the Kansas prairie to unexpected results. The bison quickly returned to their pre-Columbian population. After a controlled burn of the entire great plains in the spring of 2019, the tall grass prairie ecosystem of the U.S. restored itself from tap roots that had lain dormant at the earth’s core since John Deere invented the steel plow in 1838. The interior U.S. radically depopulated as prairie dog colonies caused irreparable damage to the infrastructure of its cities and towns.

Copyright © 2016 by Anne Boyer. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.