For Omens




Rotting horse overcast by flies, falling albatross, stormy sky—


How can we believe in omens if once

1 in 10 million buffalos were born white,

& now we’ve bred five generations?


We forgot to be buffaloed is to be mystified—


The Lakota believe the white buffalo was created

by the daughter of the moon & sun, the sky couldn’t resist her.

When a scout embraced her, he died, engulfed by storm—


We forgot storms are a release of excess desire—


During thunder, the white buffalo Lightning Medicine Cloud was born.

He was found dead a year later mutilated & skinned.


We forgot omens are prophetic only if asked yes/no, if/then:

Yes, he was skinned by those who wanted to ingest sacredness.


We forgot how to see truth in albino fleece stripped of sin—


His mother died the day after. Doctors said, blackleg,

the quarter evil ill that strikes youth & summer, strikes muscles

with black lesions. So why the mother in winter?


We forgot to look for the future in buffalo liver—


The ranchers burned wildflowers & sage, gloves & flannel,

tractor tires & chains, but we forgot omens appear in series.

A year later the father was killed by lightning.



Kara Dorris recently graduated with a PhD in literature and poetry at the University of North Texas. Her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Tusculum Review, Harpur Palate, Cutbank, The Tulane Review, and Crazyhorse, among others literary journals, as well as the anthology Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, (2011). Dancing Girl Press published my chapbook, Elective Affinities, in 2011. Her second chapbook, Night Ride Home, was published by Finishing Line Press, in 2012. She is also the editor of Lingerpost, an online poetry journal.

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