back to home
back to works

Sunny Killdeer


Oh come to sunny Killdeer

Where prairie meets the sky

‘Neath the gorgeous Killdeer Mountains

Where wild turkeys fly

Fishing walleye in Lake Ilo

Feel the rodeo cowboy’s pride


On the shores of Lake Sakakawea

The revelers bask in the glow

But wait! Is that the sunset?

Or flames from the hell below?

The Sioux and Heavenly Father

Are the only ones who know


Oh the streams that we swam in

Flow back with a foamy brine

And the buttes where the children run and hide?

Are spoiled with hydrogen and sulfide!

And the surface spills from the oils drills

Fill our aquifers with chemi-kills


And the biocides fill our eyes with tears

And the natural gas kills the atmospheres

While the mancamps offer great careers

For STDs and billionaires

Now Oklahoma’s on the Richter scale

From the booming boom for Bakken shale

While oil tanks explode by truck and rail

It’s another viral human epic fail

Thank God you can’t hear yourself think

Past the squalor, waste, smoke, noise and stink


Oh come to North Dakota

And look upon our wounds

The saddest prairie stewards

Sending Killdeer to its doom

The Sioux called it “Tah-Kah-O-Kuty”

We killed them, we needed more room

And now we are killing dear Killdeer 

It is sent to it’s doom by a boom


Bakken Business

You’ve heard of the man Henry Bakken

A farmer in Tioga, North Dakota

It was on his land, sleeping ‘neath the sand

Oil reaching north to Manitoba

They named it the Bakken Formation

Spreading under four states in two nations

The oil, mature in gestation

Yet so far from the towns’ service station


Drill down to the Dolomite

Then take a sharp left with the big rig

Next, take it easy on the dynamite

Let hydraulics do the work on this big dig


Liquid takes the propping agents down

Into the shale under pressure

The earth cracks open, the props prop the cracks

And it makes a lovely fracturing fissure

Natural gas escapes in the hole

And climbs up the well into day

Not all the volume can be contained 

So they burn a third away


The oil, too, exceeds capacity 

Of pipes carrying crude to the markets

Sure, eighteen-wheelers with effed up tanks

Aren’t safe but drive the profits!

The trucks need fuel, as do the drills

We burn half the fuel we’re extracting

But Bakken business trades in future lives

We’ll be dead before our children start acting

Regulations run the civilized world

With fracking laws in place to protect y’all

But North Dakota’s Halliburton rules

Make frack a freaking freak free for all


Crime is at an all-time high

Unemployment at an all-time low-whoa-whoa

With jobs in service and jobs in sales 

Blow me, blow you, buy blow 

Kickbacks keep the legislature

Super funding slick toxic dumping

The pimps and hookers work overtime

To keep the oil men pumping

There’s just one rule in oil-town

This wild western home on the range

Do what you want to, take what you will

But never mention climate change

Never mention climate change

Interview – The Train Engineer

Before we proceed with credentials

Let’s address what must be your concerns

Our trains have a way of exploding

Our man prior died covered in burns

But please be assured we are taking the steps

To insure better safety for all

And just to be fair, in Lac-Megantic,

Half the downtown in still standing tall

We ship crude from here to New Brunswick

It’s safer to pipe underground

Except for the underground earthquakes

Caused by fracking, I know how this sounds

But if you are here to make money

Not some tree-hugger hoping to end it

We’ll pay you in spades, if you know what I mean

And we’ll help you find fun ways to spend it


The Frakking Fluids’ Daughter’s Dance

They said when they’d extracted 

The oil from the shale

The propponts in the fluid

Were harmless – what a tale!


In fact the fracking fluid

Is toxic as a snake

And the blow back from the flow back

Is as bad as Yellow Cake!


The gel-based liquids have an edge

Said Zuber in the eighties

With polymers and surfactants

Hear this, my gents and ladies!

Butoxyethonal and biocides with foam have hopes

Of carrying with it radiated tracer isotopes


Hydrochloric acid will put you in the clinic

With radioactive half-lives and a BTEX carcinogenic

It leaches into wellsprings and into reservoirs

They recommend before you drink it to say your “au revoirs”


And that’s not even mentioning 

The props slick-waters carry

Permittiveness and mesh size

Interstitial space may vary

They’re made of treated sand, 

Sintered bauxite or ceramics

And they’re shaking the mid-continent

With earthquakes and semantics


Slick-water’s not for drinking

I can hear the barman snicker

With all our ground water full of salt

The safest drink is liquor


Interview – The Truck Driver

So you’re here for a job as a truck driver

This must be you’re lucky day

Most guys will tell you it’s men’s work

Me? I’ll hire a female or gay

Just as long as you take care of business

And can handle the stress of the load

It don’t matter to me who’s behind the wheel

In a blizzard with ice on the road

You’ll be pumping the waste from the holding tanks

Into the tank on your rig

Then driving it to the disposal wells…

You sure you still want this gig?

The fumes from the tank can be deadly

You will puke for week within hours

The hydrogen sulfide is lethal

If the tank isn’t cleaned right and sours

Most of the truckers wear sensors

And gas masks help not getting sick

With a mask and your fire proof jump-suit

The guys might not know you’re a chick

It is foul, murky work, you still want it?

Yeah, I figured – a mortgage, two kids…

Unemployment ran off with your husband

So it’s Bakken or back on the skids

Ocean Breezes

The ocean breezes fan the plains

Salty Gulf Stream zephyrs

A strange perfume from distant seas

Mixed with the smell of heifers


The plains are land-locked o’er the Bakken

Water here is scarce

They pump the fresh to do the frackin’

And drink the brackish arse


The Bakken beckons, “bang for buck,”

We all know it’s perversion

But greed makes even good men suck

The lifeblood from their children


It makes no sense, this self-destruction

It challenges acumen

They must place blame, they beg for unction

It’s all so fracking human

Interview – Climate Change Denier

Thank you for coming, a climate change expert,

As you know, plays a critical role

In clearing our conscience and raising moral

As we dig ourselves into this hole

The guys need more rationalizations

To keep them from feeling like asses

Even red states can start feeling blue

Just because we produce green house gasses

We’re not doing anything wrong here

The world has a need and we fill it

We’re just folks putting food on the table

You have gas in your car ’cause we drill it

You have no right to judge, it’s good money

P.S. we didn’t cause the recession

And if saving the whales paid the mortgage

We wouldn’t need your profession

Global warming’s a snow job, agree?

You will need some kind of degree

Your resume says you’re a doctor, that’s good

In the field of…podiatry

Don’t worry, it’s fine, it’s all about spin

Tell them they’re saving the planet

We’ll start fresh with clean energy sources

Once we drink through the liquor cabinet

So the sooner we burn up the oil

The sooner we’re on the right track

Let’s just hope that the ocean won’t boil

While we hit rock bottom and frack

The Medicine Hole


Have you heard of the mysterious Medicine Hole

It’s a cave in the Killdeers and a legend of old

Where the Sioux got theirs in 1864

For scalping the settlers, time to settle the score


General Sully brought his army and artillery

And routed the Sioux till they started to flee 

But some disappeared near the top of the peak

Then emerged miles west at the end of the week


The white man was afraid of the cave

And filled the hole with rocks to make himself brave

Then the bravest of the braves put some dynamite in

And blew it back open and felt a strong wind

“The earth is your mother,” the message came through

“You have nothing to fear…if you’re a Sioux!”

Seismicity City


In Youngstown, Ohio

Some youths felt the earth move

At a New Year’s Eve celebration

These 4.0 students

Felt 4.0 tremors

Like those left leaning parts of the nation


Their land before fracking

Was stable and settled by

God fearing Quakers, movers not shakers

They prayed that earth would

Receive their kindness

Now all pray for history’s blindness

The underground damage to oil pipes and gas lines

Won’t leave us with greasy sea birds

Seals with their doe eyes pleading

Save us from drowning in your sleaze

We are hiding our secret Valdez 

And pretending the human race is not a disease  

Wankan-Tanka, forgive our sins 

With the understanding we have no intention 

Of quitting killing and drilling, fulfilling our need

Guilt and money are just so yummy, come and seal our deal with a handshake

Oh, Great Spirit, dispense your penance 

We have sealed our fate with an earthquake to pay for our greed 



‘Cross the hot and dusty plain

Rolls the Donner wagon train

Immigrant families headed for Cali

over the rockies and into the Valley

Wealthy farmers – Illinois

Not your average hoi pollois

They could afford all the comforts of home

Fold out tables, memory foam

Flatware, stoneware, the old violin

Heirlooms, perfumes, gramp’s accordion

Land yacht, 5 speed oxen power

The Santa Maria, the new Mayflower

Ample food stores, beef and jerky

Midwest farmers, talkin turkey

They’d made it good in their new nation

This wasn’t their Daddy’s immigration

Back then it was famine or unfair taxation

The hope of the new world was representation

Religious freedom, no aristocracy

World-wide welcome, full throated democracy

So why does the middle class up and go?

Road trip, maybe? Tired of snow? 

A better life, The American dream

1840’s airstream meme?


When colonists moved to the west

WIth courage strong they met the test

They drove their oxen all day long

And as they drove, they sang this song

For we are blessed with God’s good grace

We have the lead in this fair race 

We’ll build our roads then charge a toll

‘Cause that’s just how our wagons roll 

They met with hardship now and then

Encounters with the Indian

They’d shoot ‘em up and carry on

And as they’d shoot they’d sing this song

For God has given us this land

We kill because it’s his command

In His good name we tell our lies

Appropriate and monetize

So we are free, our conscious clear

As are all whites that are not queer

The rest of you do not belong

And if you doubt us, hear our song!

For some are white and some are not

And some are free and some are bought

It’s she, her, hers and he, him, his

And that is just the way it is

Now you may think that I’m not kind

Not true, in fact, I’m color blind!

As long as you stay off my lawn 

And follow the precepts of my song!

If you are good and earn my trust

Do not talk back, rebel or cuss

Then we are good, I got your back

Your wife and kids and gunnysack

Does this mindset sound a little dated?

Yet vaguely familiar and still related? 

Our singspiel begins (that’s german for “sing-play”)

Please sing along we are off off off broadway!


The Donner party was pretty diverse

Upper class, lower class, middle class purse

German, Irish, none with the curse

Frenchman, Anglican, lock step verse

On the 12th of May, eighteen forty six

The Donners and Reeds put their names in the mix

Along with the Fosters, Breens and Graves

For a mass migration through the land of the braves

500 hundred wagons, an immigrant caravan

To the Mexican border, that was the master plan

The D’s started late, just a few weeks tardy

They were last in line, but the Donner’s were hardy

And when the work was finally done

You’ve got to see these Donner’s PARTY!

4.) WHO THREW THE OVERALLS: Donner party

Oh, who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder

Nobody spoke so he shouted all the louder

It’s an Irish trick that’s true

I can lick the mick the threw

The overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder

So we dragged the pants from out the soup and laid them on the floor

Each man swore upon his breast he’d ne’er seen them before

They were plastered up with mortar and were worn out at the knee

They’d had their many ups and downs and we could plainly see

When Mrs. Murphy she came to she took a look herself

She threw them back into the pot adding spices from the shelf

George Donner he excused himself and took a little sip

It tasted like foreshadowing of their yet and epic trip

Oh, who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder

Nobody spoke so he shouted all the louder

It’s an Irish trick that’s true

I can lick the mick the threw

The overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder


Then after the women and children retired

The menfolk would gather around the fire

Keseberg would dig up the cache of home brew

And they’d talk for a spell and spit and chew


Something about this trip just felt so…right

God in in his heavens, man in his might

Virgin territory, no humans in sight

I mean, there were natives, but they weren’t white


Then Manny took out his mandolin

And plucked while the others said…“Amen”

And they talked about mansions, manors, mantitlements

Mankind’s man caves, and manly manvironments

These are the men in manifest destiny

They have the strength and superior weaponry 

It is a no brainer –  colonize, populate

Manhandle, maneuver, man-up, penetrate

It’s their call of duty, their Noblesse oblige,

Oh the weight of power and privilege…Puh-leeze!

Where much is given, more can be taken

I’ll have my martini stirred, not shaken


They never asked why they were superior

They just had this feeling y’all were inferior

Dominion was part of their god given mandate

And a man needs some land in order to populate

They said their prayers, they towed the line

They loved their neighbor and their own bloodline

Their hearts were pure, their horses strong

What could possibly go wrong? 


It was middle of June when they got to Wyoming

Where the antelope play with the Buffalo roaming

They could have stopped there, it was pretty uncluttered

Homesteading was free, gold was not yet discovered


At this point in the trek things were technically fine

Healthy humans and livestock and all things bovine

It had been by most measurements super smooth sailing

But compared to the others, the Donner’s were trailing

Other immigrant trains were just days from Fort Hall

The deadline was winter – both the writing and wall

On July 28th they reached Fort Bridger

Their days disappearing like beers in the fridger

They’d started late and weren’t making good time

With August approaching, they heard the bell chime

The Donner’s agreed they were in a pickle

Then they met a man with a wooden nickel

The man Lansford Hastings was pitching a plan

That would save time and effort, down to the man

There were lively discussions

About repercussions 

Tamsen Donner said no, yes said the man

Hasting’s cut-off would save them some time

But two wooden nickels don’t equal a dime

He lied to the Donners

Did he know they were goners? 

As of yet, his advice was a victimless crime

7.) CON MAN’S MAP – Tamsen Donner 


Listen to my warning! You’re falling for a trap! 

We can’t follow this con man’s map

If we do, our fortune it will be

Death by starvation and historic infamy

Hastings is a lawyer, he’s bigoted, insidious

He sides with the confederates, feeding his ambitiousness

He wants California for his colony – ridiculous

And his propaganda guide books are nothing less than dangerous

Hastings is verbose and pompous, driven by his greed

Let me give the cliff notes here so you won’t have to read

“The south is losing to the north, it soon will be decreed

slavery is illegal and no, we can’t secede


Listen to my warning! You’re falling for a trap! 

We can’t follow this con man’s map

If we do, our fortune it will be

Death by starvation and historic infamy

Hastings says we need to move to Oregon or Brazil

Or super california where we can sit and chill

Other people do the work while we sip cold iced tea

The southern life – with child brides and legal slavery

Hastings sold a short cut, a quicker trek out west

Like Moses and the Red Sea, a short cut’s often best!

Only Moses was a prophet, his followers were blessed

Hastings wanted profits, people died because he guessed 


Man 1

Typical woman, she’s being divisive!

Undermining her husband for being decisive

Man 2 yeah, but what if she’s right? I don’t want to die

Man 1 Bro! Lance is the man, a regular guy

Don’t be distracted, you sound like a pussy

This is a land grab! We win when we’re pushy!


They were white and able, Cis hetero normative

In the prime of their lives, mainstream and conformative

These were the “He” in the Battle “Hymn”: 

Christian soldiers, their pseudonym

They had paintings of God in their own image

And the cross before them on the line of scrimmage

Feeling an urge, so intense, irrepressible

To own all that land, so vast and accessible

White open spaces, empty and free,

Waiting for commerce and a user fee

And those purple mountains majesty?

To let them sit idle was almost a travesty

Homesteading was the deal of the century

Build a house, then a wall and a big penitentiary

The west was was still lawless, no order or policing

Rumors of scalping were few..but increasing

The natives still free, not formally censured

Still fighting, not dead yet, not yet indentured

Don’t worry, they got this, it’s so not an issue

The weapons they carry are government issued

Manpower, gunpowder, egos bloated

Their rifles and wagons were fully loaded

Remington Arms, God on their side

White fingers on triggers, hello genocide!


This land is their land

It is not your land

It might have once been

They do not care, man

They came and claimed it

Then raped and maimed it

This land belongs to them alone


They reached Hasting’s cutoff on July 31st

Dissenters were silenced or otherwise coerced

They could have gone north to the Oregon Trail

But Tamsen’s protests were to no avail

It was a deadly premiere – the path was unrehearsed

One more step, their fate could not be reversed

Oh what an awful place it was when first the Donners entered

Nothing like the straight and narrow Lansford Hastings mentored 

There was no trail, there was no path, the range was choked with Aspen

The cottonwood and undergrowth left all the oxen gaspin’ 


Rock cliffs, steep routes, the men-folk worked their butt-off

So much for Lansford Hastings and his untried stupid cut-off

(bloody made-up, fantasticated, Stupid effing, etc.) 

The bushwack through the wasatch range went on without abatement

To say it had some ups and downs would be an understatement

It took a fortnight plus two days, a pioneering no no

When navigating vertical change, the crow flies like a yo-yo

Finally they saw the Great Salt Lake and all said, “Wow”

The billboard read, “If you were Mormon, you’d be home by now!”

Pity that the saints weren’t there yet, they’d have made them merry

With jello-molds, rice crispy treats and ice cream with a cherry

But all alone they stood and stared, their thirst beyond the pale

Broken spokes, depleted folks, their oxen dragging tail

Corn was king in Illinois, with amber waves of grass

These purple mountains majesty are a royal pain in the ass…pen


They had made a new trail at enormous effort

The Mormons used it later on their way to the desert

“A toast to the Donner’s for paving the way!”

Only Mormons don’t drink and the Donner’s…well…

At the rate they were going, if nothing else went wrong

Storms in the Sierra could make winter very long…

Tamsen bit her tongue, afraid that she might curse

When she looked at the desert they had yet to traverse

The Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch range

Bookend the Great Basin, dangerous and strange

Once swirling with water, an ocean galore

Now an ancient and arid, dry ocean floor

A smart and quiet obedient wife

Could not keep quiet when it came to loss of life

She gave George an earful, “I will not go!”

Listen to your partner’s people, “no means no!” 

11.)  NO, MEANS SNOW – Tamsen and George

T: Oh look at us now! I told you to listen!


G: You’re blaming me for the group’s decision? 


T: You are a leader, a man who could sway them 

Instead you let hastings influence and play them


G: No, woman, no! Don’t you talk back to me!

I am your husband, do not disagree

Mine is the last word and I said go


T: All right then, George, but I told you so.


G: I said “yes,” we were going too slow

You must understand, “No means snow!”


T: Snow, George! I know! I know “no means snow!”

But the Wasatch was slower and now snow means snow!


G: What do yous know, Ms. (s)know it all

I know that the salt flats snow free for all

Tamsen, I sense (s)no issues ahead


T: Snow issues! Exactly!! That’s what I said! 


G: He said 40 miles, (s)no more


T: Lance? (s)no! He lies, like a floor!


G: There’s (s)no snow on the short cut

You’re just tense, (s) no if and or buts


T: Is (s)no what you’re hearing, George?

‘Cause (s)no happened in the gorge


We lost a week plus four

It’s (s)no better than before 


G: Is snow what you said? I said no and I know!


T: Like when moisture condenses and freeze(s)no? 


G: Just like I sez, (s)no, I swear you said snow


T: You listen to me, George, “No means (s)no!”


G: Well if no means snow, and snow means (s)no

Then dammit woman, off we go


T: There’s (s)no argument, George, if you sez (s)no

Then know it alls (s)know what is going to blow


They call them the salt flats, They’re salty and flat

(and there ain’t a lot you can do about that!)

It’s a long stretch of salt and the ground’s really flat

(the midwest is flat – but this ain’t that!)

In so much as the rockies are not like Milwaukee

(You don’t have to say it, the Rockies are…rocky)

The “short cut” had sent them straight into the Wasatch

Short cutting right through to this terrible hot patch

We set modern land speed records here

Cause there’s nothing around to interfere

No cacti, no lizards, no annoying oasis

Just the sun beating down on your homeostasis 

Setting a wagon speed record is tough

Cause as fast as you go, it ain’t fast enough

The train stayed together till the water ran low

And the oxen got thirsty and started to slow

And while no gun was fired to start off this race

Clear as death was the moment they started to pace 

And unique to this race that was driven by thirst

The first was last, and the last came in first

See, a big heavy wagon was a symbol of wealth

Of many possessions, of financial health

Super duper Winnebago 

Windy City to San Diego

Double decker super deluxe

Ox drawn honky tonka trucks

The Reeds brought with them more than one wagon


Oh Wow, super cool…till the oxen start draggin’


Now suddenly, lighter was better and faster

The tables were turned on the wheels of disaster

And what seemed like the must haves in Indiana

They were chucking stuff overboard, even Grandma’s piana


As the lighter wagons peeled away from the train

The heavier laden kept praying for rain

Ditching their heirlooms, prizes, possessions,

They had to keep up with this funeral procession

Onward they trudged through an endless montage

And the only good news was just a mirage

Shedding their valuables, lightening their load

Dishes, cast iron, the porcelain commode

The oxen were going downhill without drinking

An uphill battle while morale was sinking

What the hell Lansford Hasting, what the hell have you done?

Sending our people to die in the sun

You said the salt flats were forty across

It’s eighty at least, and we bear the cross

You said water we’d find water in one day at the most

You lied to us, Hastings, now our cattle are toast

Then on the horizon a dark mass appeared

Could it be they were gaining? They peered as they neared

For sure, it’s a wagon! It was cause to rejoice

Wait, it’s abandoned, our friends had no choice

But to cut loose their cattle and press on by foot

With death close behind them, they couldn’t stay put

Oh what can be worse than the troubles I’ve seen? 

Don’t ask – but you did…so yeah, check your canteen

It’s hard to watch oxen dying of thirst

But dying yourself? I’d say that’s probably worst

Feel that little “eh hem” in the back of your throat?

That starts as a tickle and dries to a choke?

It’s a thirst so intense that you fear for your life

(and you should! People die!

Say goodbye to your wife

And your kids, and your oxen 

(already dead!)

Say goodbye to the voices inside of your head

Screaming why did I follow advice from a liar

Who led me into this baptism by fire

We thought that he knew stuff, he’d written a book!

The art of the wagon wheel, art of the hook


Maybe so, I don’t doubt that he’s partly to blame

I also have heard it’s a much deeper game

Hastings is saying that the south’s going south

(They’re sayin the same about you, cottonmouth)

He wants a new south that will rise in the west

He needs people to help him and only the best

With his help he can make us great again!

He said his sword’s even mightier than his pen!

Wow! A super big sword? He must be the man!

Take it easy there, junior, what we need is PLAN!

We need law and order or it’ll get all chaotic!

If we don’t silence dissenters, we are not patriotic!

Hello? He lied to us, why believe what he’d say?

Until we listened to him, we were doing okay

Did he mention slavery or something akin? 

Then he needs to make immigration great again

Now here we are dying, no water, no nurses

Our wagons are coffins, our horses need hearses

Hold on, take a minute, this party’s not over

(Though you may wish you’d saved that last four leaf clover)

The luck of the Irish may yet see us through!

If we survive this, we’ll be mulligan stew! 

Most of the audience knows what comes next

An ordeal by hunger – the truth’s more complex

We all love the saying, “accidents happen”

But even an asteroid hitting Manhattan

Is a causal result of a series of actions

events, circumstances, repulsions, attractions

And all man made disasters, from war to facism 

are born from decisions, half Darwin, half schism

Misinformation, lies and denials

Are the taproots of most of societies trials

The Donner’s are half way to heaven’s salvation

And they still haven’t tasted the pangs of starvation

Bruised from the wasatch, parched from the flats

The odds are against them, terrible stats

But it wasn’t just Hastings, it wasn’t just snow

It was not just an accident…on with the show.



Well I hate to admit it but Tamsen was right


See?!? everyone knows it, because of our fight


She’s lucky your mother taught you not to hit ‘em up


Tamsen better run when I say giddy-up

She did it on purpose, this is all her fault

“I told you so!” like a frontal assault…

On my manhood! In front of the whole damn train!

She’s a silly old woman with a peanut butter brain! 


Do we also have to struggle to keep women in their place?

When we’re already policing every other possible race?

We need to help others behave more like we do 

Narrator voice

What you need, sugar pie, is a paradigm redo

Science confirms man’s mancentric psyche

Dream studies show what we all knew was likely

Men dream about men, it’s the world that we live in

It is what it is but you still shouldn’t give in


Feelings aren’t facts, not all impulses are good

Be aware of your lack of awareness, you should!

Think hearing and caring is femmy? It’s not!

In fact most of your partner’s think empathy’s hot!

Toxic and manly, filled with aggression

Clinging to hate and his dreams of secession

Homophobic, afraid of a therapy session

Rage is his go-to for self-expression

I get it, I hear you, the world’s moving on

You are less educated and so put upon

Hate is for incels, you know that it’s true 

PS women are making more money than you

All that antipathy, anger, aggression, 

Stunted development, repressive repression

All that misogyny, oedipal longings

Who is you daddy, unpacked belongings 

Even as science burns bright through our fogginess

We have sleep in our eyes and hung over grogginess

The donner’s party was just one of the benders

Drunk on white power we’re all repeat offenders

Four hundred years of pure asshole behavior

And we still think we’re some kind of aryan savior

I wish we could say 2020 is hindsight

That the racisms over and everything’s all right

But this shit just keeps going, we love hierarchy

If all men were equal – there’s is still patriarchy


What happened to the Donners in the snow

Need not happen to you if you buy a chateau

But should something happen and you get lost

Here are some tips to make friends with Jack Frost


That snow don’t want your dollar bills

To stop the chills

You need the secrets of the hills

for example….Cotton kills

If you fall into a 

River or start to Sweat 

You need wool to insulate you 

It’s warm when Wet 

Cotton freezes and stays frozen 

And so will You 

Non Plant fibers and synthetics 

Or silk will Do 

Start with a base layer 

something light and whicky 

then your fleece and gore-tex parka

it’s not so tricky

no cotton socks

throw out your jeans!

make sure your undies

are propylene 

Water freezes from the top

Then bottles burst

Pack them top down in your parka

Hydration first

Bodies lose heat from the top

the neck and head

Keep your thinking cap on always

like ma-ma said

If you get lost 

or separated 

build a shelter in the snow 

and stay hydrated 

crawl in you bag

stay where you are

and if you’re driving

stay in your Car

Flashlights don’t work below thirty two

uh huh

Pack in your coat

keep them close to you 

Your brain is your best asset

when lips are blue

If you’re running out of food

don’t eat your Neighbor 

Fish and trap for lit-tle game

then cook and savor 

Melting snow is less efficient 

than melting ice 

Be sure and water proof your matches

They don’t strike twice

Say I’m approached by a bear?

Black bears bluff, fight back and scare

If it’s a grizzly instead?

Lie face down pretend your dead 

What if I fall off a crest?

Use your axe to self arrest

What if the pick doesn’t slow?

Stick your crampons in the snow

And if I Fall in crevasse?

Try to land upon your ass

And if I can’t see the sky?

Say good-bye

You may think this does-n’t apply to you

You’re the type to sit in hot tubs

and Bar-B-Q  

You like beds and indoor plumbing

I bet you do

Doesn’t mean you don’t need info

about the snow

cause guess what the climate’s changing

Just so you know

Cotton kills


And by the way – and just so you know

There are folks gore-tex free who thrive in the snow

Generations of naturalists, we call them First Nations

With languages, cultures, secure populations

Ask your sherpa how this kind of community

Lives in peace in the wilderness, and unobtrusively

Okay! Sorry! back to our story, remember the alamo?

Cultural genocide, Kiowa, Navajo?

The united states was still a slaveholding nation

Still is, just rebranded – “mass incarceration”

The trail of tears, unforgivable cruelness 

Now note the first nation’s incredible coolness

As we have learned, sometimes colonist suffer

They lose their bearings, don’t have enough buffer

The natives were known to help them as guides

Give food and shelter, even buffalo hides

This was their answer to the white man’s inanity

Simple acts of compassion, basic humanity

Indenginous folk gave the white folk a hand

While the white folk were taking and raping their land

Whose land? Exactly! And that’s part of the story

The colonist brain needs ownership, inventory

Indigious people see earth as their mother

How can one own something living? …oh brother

First nations were slaughtered by white pioneers

But it happened so long ago, a hundred plus years

Do we cut them slack? Those were olden days

They didn’t know better, different times, different ways…

Well, By that logic our time is also unique

We don’t have to replay their tragedy greek 

Their past must inform our current morality

our racist systems we accept as normality

Use their perspective and make better choices

Quit oppressing the planet, her children, her voices

We like to look back and think “gee, I wonder”

While they’re like, wtf, y’all still have world hunger?!?

This is the best you could do with democracy? 

Stop looking at us like we’re filled with hypocrisy 

We don’t want your judgment, your slack or your pity

We want all you with privilege to stop acting so shitty!


Thank you, George Donner, for that intervention

Let’s go with that opening, y’all pay attention 

For all of us privileged – yes, that means you

We need to get started, there is so much to do

It’s no longer enough to be well intended 

We must be impactful, get amendments amended


Access to health care for all communities

Equal treatment in courts, the same opportunities

Stop red-lining neighborhoods, projects and schools

Level the playing field, use the same rules

Respect ancestral burial grounds

Make land reparations, what goes around comes around

Don’t steal people’s land, be a good neighbor

Oh and hey, here’s a good one! Pay for your labor!

We screwed it up, we made this mess

How about some airtime for those we oppress

Close up the race based income gap

Lift every voice – start by shutting your yap

Fact check your logic then own your religions 

Be aware of your bias when making decisions

Open your eyes, we are blind to our bias

We practice exclusion and call ourselves pious


We profile people, we micro-aggress 

So creative in finding new ways to oppress

Do you only feel right when others are wrong?

Still “Us and Them?” let it go, get along

Uncomfortable? Nervous? Don’t know what to say?

Then study, inform yourself, read everyday


The path moving forward is no big mystery

We need to acknowledge the truth of our history

Respect, reconcile, and make reparations

We have models provided by plenty of nations

And you don’t have to love everyone all the time

No more than you have to make everything rhyme

But you do have to listen and don’t be corrective

Review what the Trekkies call “The Prime Directive” 

Let folks self-determine, respect people’s rights

Especially on intergalactic flights


Now back to you, George Donner, back to your story

We rejoin our hero in camp purgatory….

17.) DONNER LAKE: George Donner 

So, all of that prep that we did? All the things I have seen to?

We’re huddled and cold in a makeshift lean-to

The mighty have fallen, we’ve little to eat

Some coffee and sugar, no salt, scraps of meat

Our wagon abandoned, our oxen dismissed

The snow was too deep, if you get my drift

The rest of the party are set up in a compound

I’m a little relieved they’re all 6 miles westbound

Reed is gone, he killed a man, Keseberg doesn’t care

Dolan and the Breens have food but aren’t inclined to share

the Graves have one foot in it, who will save the Reeds?

The Eddy family goes without while hunger sows it’s seeds 

Mrs. Murphy’s low on chowder, the family Foster’s freeze

The only winter crops we’ve got are sickness and disease


And here’s the topper, if I may, my personal nadir

In the face of death to everything and all that I hold dear

I cut my hand upon my axe, the stupidest mistake

The kind of error farmers joke a city man would make

And now it is infected, though Tamsen cleans it everyday

A hand infection in the woods means death is on it’s way

So I can’t even hope or dream, of all the stupid errors

I will die by my own hand…and what of my pallbearers?

If I’m remembered or survived, by Tamsen and my offspring

My lovely wife, my towhead girls, the source of life, my wellspring

Will they forgive me my mistakes? My ignorance and pride?

Or will the Donners die forgotten, withered in the hillside? 

Lord upon who’s door I knock, will Thou let me enter in?

Forgive me Lord, I tried so hard, forgive me in my sin

I followed Thy commandments, I did the white thing, Lord

I glorified myself in Thee, I forged my plowshare, made a sword


So, Reed, for wrong reasons, had made it into the valley

He put up some money, paid some locals to rally

To get up and over and rescue the immigrants

Each one of them promised their doest of diligence

But it takes more than money to cross this divide

More than hopped up, youthful masculine pride

The wall that divides califor from Nevada

‘S made of fault block escarpments, there ain’t nothin baddeh

7000 feet high, 2 million feet long

This wall got you beat, it’s so right that it’s wrong

Made of rock, check it out, hundred million years old

Go on take it for granite –  ‘cause it is – like I told

“Sierra Nevada,” for those from the plains

Means “Snow covered mountain,” read “fear in your veins”

Even mountain men know that the snow is irascible

Putting impossible back in impassable 

How does one do it, make a safe journey west?

The Oregon Trail – go around – it’s the best

Proven and tested, for all purposes paved

Wait! You took Hasting’s cut-off? You might not be saved

Hastings was bluffing, he’d never done that route

The cut-off was a one-off guess, without a parachute

He chose his words, his crossing was something he implied

Would it hold up in courts you ask? That’s something you decide

Think it over while you’re starving, dying for some lunch?

Eat a bullshit sandwich, wash it down with sucker punch


Make peace with your maker and march till you drop

And don’t beg, “pretty please with sugar on top”

‘Cause that sugar is powdered and ten feet deep

All fluffy and slushy and slippery steep

“Yeah, well I’ve got a Subaru, four wheel drive”

We call that, “Subarubris,” you’ll need more to survive

i-80 in winter, the renowned “Donner Pass,” 

(The name helps remind us to check our sass)

Sixty car pile ups, trucks sliding sideways

Lines of cars sliding backwards down an interstate highway

Check weather, be cautious, let’s use our brains!

What’s this? Stop my car? I have to use chains? 

So here was the deal with these big rescue missions

They were more, “oh wow! You need food and physicians!

I’ll take a small child and put him in my pack 

I’d leave you some food but I need it to get back”

A few more attempts were made from both sides

A few times the stranded had indigenous guides

…for dinner, I mean, they killed them and ate them

I know they were desperate but it’s hard not to hate them

On one such attempt, the man William Eddy

Told the guides to escape or they’d end up bloody

The other men, angered, made side eye contact

At Eddy for breaking the social contract! 

“What the hell, man, we’re WHITE! What’s the matter with you?

Are you soft on the natives? Cause that’s a taboo!

You’re white and they’re red! You’re a pinko commie!

Then both started thinking of cheese and salami

They were racist for sure, also crazy with hunger

Drooling at Eddy, fresher and younger…


I fear the coming night, I fear not all will make the morning

I feel their burning eyes on me, I do not look but feel their yearning

Without a bite tonight they’re surely done,

They see me as the meal they can kill and live to see the morning sun

If I can stay alive to-night they’ll surely die from natural causes

And will I starve my life or kill my moral soul and cut my losses?

Show me the thinnest line ‘tween life and death

Who’ll cross that line and eat 

and call their neighbor meat 

and kill while there’s still breath? 

And does it even matter anymore?

It’s all we’re going to be remembered for

The immigrants whose bodies ate themselves by starving

Ate the bodies car-ving what was left

While frostbite ate away the rest

Of the survivors hopes of the west

Dear Lord, protect my life and my little boy and wife from death

Not very long ago back before the snow, we worked together

We’d share our daily chores, toast s’mores, never mind the weather

Little Jinny and her pony 

were not so bony, 

friends forever

We had our petty words 

but we were still all birds of a feather

With our wagons circled round, we had common ground, and common sense

The wagon train that could, knock on wood, free of incidents

Breaking bread and killing deer, 

with our children near, 

such innocence

With diligence and pride, 

marching side by side 

as immigrants

When human hunger speaks it struggles for some moral reason

We’ll eat the oxen first, then horses, dogs and ponies in their season

Then god forgive us as we prey 

upon the fifty shades of emigre, 

this horrid act of social treason

When hunger takes a human voice, the things it says are tasteless

“Let’s kill the natives first, they’re less,” I’m sorry, that’s just racist

Next eat the drivers, they are childless

Then we begin by class

All of this is absolutely baseless

I warned the guides to run, not to wait

And now they want my head upon the plate

If I nod off they will do 

And they will kill you

And eat your mate


The Wolf at least does not discriminate

We humans get to choose, deliberate

To kill is not a fate

Let me die before I choose to hate


Eddy, oh Eddy, he still gets to choose!

He still has his moral sense, something to lose


Stay with us, Eddy, you kind voice of reason

We need good men like you come the end of this season

The power to think, to choose, to give

Defines us as humans, as long as we live


Our revered frontal lobe, so small when compared

To the weight of it’s duty, especially when scared


To stay level headed, do not enter fear

While others are processing, don’t interfere


The cradle of reason, of ethics of empathy

The home of our betters selves, kindness and sympathy




Take away thought – what have we got?

Central and nervous…that’s not a lot

Bottle in front of me

Frontal lobotomy

You’re still responsible, don’t say you forgot 


Who are these immigrants in their decline

With so many stressors, can they still define?

Whom and whose?

Rhythm from blues? 

When do they cease to “be,” where is the line? 


When will they shrug at systems complex

Can they even still fathom what happens next? 

Back to the basics

Plugged in the matrix

What is a person outside of their context?


Walking around in human forms

Outside of all their societal norms

Money is worthless

Humor is mirthless

Shit’s getting real as the winter storms


Ranch hand, landowner, seems class is erased

Race has become just a matter of taste

Appetite’s victory

Honor’s defeat

If you don’t feel shame, you can’t be disgraced




No personal borders, no sense of awareness

No civil discourse, no striving for fairness


We forget that inside everyone has a soul

We are more than thing or a threat to control 




I don’t know how I would act if I were in their situation

Do you? 


I love the warmth of fire in snow

Do you?


I love to laugh

Do you? 


I try to understand how the world has shaped me, 

Do you? 


I hate when my feet bleed from freezing and cracking

Do you?


I like to sleep with loved ones near

Do you? 


I like a well cooked meal

Do you? 


I love to dance

Do you?


I hold a place for peace

Do you? 


I live in hope

Do you? 


I know what is best for me

Do you?


I know what I think

Do you? 

 21.) WHO THREW MY LEATHER SHOE: Donner party

Oh, who threw the leather shoe in Mrs. Murphy’s chowder

Nobody spoke so he shouted all the louder

It’s an Irish trick that’s true

To lace starvations stew

With harnesses, rawhide or leather shoes…


It’s hard decipher  lad from lassie

When it’s all stripped away

No hub caps, no chassis

Hard to decipher rich from poor

Lying still on the floor

Face down

No shoes 



Good bones, you say

It’s hard to decipher

23.) AM I SAFE? Child

Am I safe anymore? 

Mama is sleeping, there’s nobody here

Mama, oh Mama, nobody’s here

All of the grown ups are acting so strange

Mama, oh mama they’re acting so strange

I used to feel safe, now everything’s changed

The grown ups are angry and fighting for bread

The children are hungry and crying for bread

I’m afraid what will happen, I’m afraid to be dead

Eat or be eaten, I heard someone say

But I am so small, I have nothing to say

The dead don’t eat, the living prey

Among all my people the larder was shared

Now it’s all changed since the larder went bare 

I feel that they hate me, they will take me, mama

Oh mama I’m scared


Mama wake up! No one is near!

Brother is cold in his sleep, mama hear!

Where once I felt safe, there is hunger and fear

Mama, stop sleeping, somebody’s here

They’re taking my brother, mama, mama

Should I speak or lie still, either way

I disapear


Ancient recipe, bring water to boil 

In desperation, add a mortal coil

“No way! I would never!” Oh! You’re different than them? 

Cause midwestern Christians know it’s a sin

Sunday school teaches it’s gross and taboo

To convert other people into a stew

The truth’s hard to swallow and harder to chew

If the Donner’s could do it – what about you? 

And is not metabolism…

A form of cannibalism?

Starvation is 

When the body eats itself

The Slow food movement

Months in the making

Stripping away the non-essentials

The sense of thirst

Brain function

Giving a shit



Donner lake meets Walden pond


Spartan-like? How so? 

Reduce life to its lowest terms?

You mean, worms?

25.) TEDIUM DIEM – Donner Party 


In we 


Thin we 

No pee












Cant see


Folk us












You tried



26.) WHO THREW MRS. MURPHY IN – Donner party

Who threw Mrs. Murphy in Mrs. Murphy’s stew

Her body smells so good…was it me or was it you?

It’s an Irish stew it’s true

It was either her or you

Floating in that aromatic stew

Mrs. Murphy was already dead, you know

She didn’t feel any pain or hurt…

On the other hand – lady fingers for dessert

Mrs. Murphy



Spring has come, and with it the thaw

Most had succumbed to nature’s law

The mountain men began to appear

To loot the caches of wealth buried near

Tamsen was failing, too weak to travel

She’d been watching her husbands infection unravel

The winter brutal, the hunger relentless

And her three little girls, if they lived would be parentless

Here were the choices she saw before her

Each single option a singular horror

If she left her husband, he would die alone

The chilling thought chilled her already chilled bone

She knew she would die before she could advocate

For her three little girls with so little on their plate 

And did she want their last memory of their mother to be

Collapsed on a trail, buried ‘neath a tree?

Better to lie to her little ones? Is it? 

Y’all go ahead, we’ll catch up and we’ll visit

In our big Hacienda on the street made of gold

Where we’ll all be together and plant marigolds…

If the girls stayed put, they’d watch both parents die

Then all alone, how could they scrape by? 

Frances was six, little Georgia just five

And Eliza, the baby, was barely alive

With days left to live, for both her and George Donner

She appealed to the mountain men’s sense of honor

She entrusted her children to these strangers, unknown

Two white men, C.L. Cady and Charles Stone

Five hundred dollars was a lot in those days

More than her trust in these men and their ways

But what were her options,  what could she do?

She wanted to save them – all mothers do!

Yet we vilify brown parents at our southern border

Desperate, like the Donner’s, trusting all to some strange porter

When your child’s death nearing and the last resort is traffic

Tamsen proved the act is human and not about a demographic

She kissed them goodbye in their little silk dresses

Blessed them with promises, love and successes

She packed silver spoons and small things to barter

For safety and kindness till they grew and were smarter

With great ceremony, the men promised Ms. Donner

And take them did, on their white man’s word of honor

Six miles and left them at the compound of death 

Where Keseberg was cooking soups of young flesh

The party started out with 87

46 lived, the rest are in heaven

Just over half, is that what you think? 

Let’s look again at a familiar link:

The wealthiest families had the least mortality

The other white families had at least solidarity

If you were a driver or a hired hand

Four out of five of you died, understand? 

Since smallpox arrived, that’s how it’s been

Death rates are tied to the color of your skin

For people of color, from covid to birthrates

This division trumps the promise of these united states


I’ll give you Berlin and the great wall of China

But nothin, but nothin will ever be finah

Then that kick ass Sierra, formidable foe 

Checkpoint Charlie for the westward ho

The switchbacks are brutal the incline prohibitive

Climbers choose expletives over an adjective

But unlike most borders you don’t need an ID

You just have to hoof it, admission is free

Man Made walls are to keep people out

Fear for the bricks, hate for the grout

Nature is cruel but it does not know hate

Mountains are mighty but don’t discriminate

Political borders change with the season

Maybe yes, maybe no, either love or high treason

So hard to predict from one term to the next

If the border patrol will be friendly or vexed

Will they grant you asylum or deny you’re existent?

In this, mother nature is way more consistent

Just wait for the summer, wear sensible shoes

With the sun on your back and a birds eye view

There, on the summit, the landscape extremity

El Capitan and valley, Yosemite


Look, there’s Sacramento! Named after the river,

“Most holy sacrament,” yeah! It delivers


Then off in the distance, the famed golden gate

With a big neon sign, “You Hoo! Emigrate!”


The sunset glows at the sea washed shore

Lifting it’s lamp by the golden door


Welcome to Mexico, Hola Amigo!

Home of the Esselen, Hupa and Kato


Plus a hundred and three more Indigenous Nations

And some ex-pats from China and cotton plantations


Welcome to all in this human condition

Moving around is a human tradition


All humans journey, we often get lost

But we are who we are because borders were crossed


Land bridges, ice bridges, boats and canoes

Good on you, humans! Migrating’s good news!


It’s good for the merchant, it’s good for the trade

It’s how scientific advances are made


Sharing ideas, mistakes and solutions

Solving our problems, diseases, pollutions


It’s good for the offspring to share DNA

Stay away from your cousin! It’s better that way!


And it’s stressful to meet people new, Yeah, I feel ya,

But that’s how we learn and avoid hemophilia


Now back to the summit, our own immigrant

Blistered and aching, no name, not a cent 

Talk to the mountains, it’s time to breathe free

You’re tired, you’re hungry, but you made it! You’re free!

You belong to this planet, this is your journey

And we’ll get you a court appointed attorney