Wounded Bear

When the coals glow red, when the coals grow low,
And in the night the cold begins to creep,
Man gathered round build the fire up slow,
They grab hold of rifles and over fearful shoulders peep. 
For they’ve heard of a lonely apparition ghostly,
Tho’ none have seen hide or hair of the torn and wounded bear, 
Who walks in the night and treads the grass softly,
Searching and stalking, the wind whistling thro’ his hair.
They gather round the fire that now burns bright,
And they sing as they fend off a gloom;
While the stars shed their light and then drop out of sight, 
While the dawning day blossoms and blooms.
They sing a ballad about Wounded Bear — 
They sing loud and clear as they fend off a gloom;
They sing to dispel the chill in the air,
They sing loud and clear in the air of pending doom. 
“Can’t catch a wink of sleep,” every night’s the same, 
Every night they hear the wind whistle thro’ his hair.
Now there’s a banjo and a guitar and a harmonica blows, 
They strike up a tune while their spirits slowly droop;
The light from the fire dances and in their eyes shows, 
Brave men quail as out of bodies spirits troop.
A man strums his guitar like he hasn’t a care:
He doesn’t fool a body, least of all himself.
They hear the wind whistling, whistling thro’ his hair, 
They sing in a body and hope and pray till morn.
They hear the wind blowing, “Lis’en to that howl”,
“That’s gotta be the wind,” “I swear I heared a growl!”
How the wind does wail, moaning and groaning, 
Wandering in the night as Wounded Bear prowls,
Sifting thro’ the hair of the wounded bear,
There’s no body close to him except for that wind.
The wind keeps close, she doesn’t know where she’s going, 
But Wounded Bear knows, and he leads her on — 
He’s searching for prey, he searches every night, 
Nothing has lived to tell of the fearsome sight.
He stoops low to pass ’neath a snow-laden branch,
He leaves not a track on the sands of Mexico;
There’s the prints of the prey in the mud, then it fades, 
There’s nothing at the end save a pile of chewed bones. 
Every night he walks, hunting in the night,
Every now and then they can hear him make a kill; 
Nobody has seen him, smelt him or felt him,
Least of all the sun, he’s with the dark and the chill.
They say he once was tame, but now he’s not the same,
Ever since the day when a bullet caused him pain;
He’s searching in the night, God help the man who shot him, 
He’s searching and stalking, he’s going to meet that man again; 
Nothing can help that man, except for Wounded Bear,
That man better hope and pray for merciful death.
Every night, rain or no, Wounded Bear walks,
No wolf has seen him that lived to run and hide;
Every night, hail or snow, Wounded Bear walks,
No snake has ever bit him that didn’t crawl off to die.
He kills to eat, he kills for fun, he kills to pass the time,
He walks in the night, searching, till the time is ripe.
Wounded Bear is torn with pain, his mind is crazed with hate, 
He doesn’t make a sound to warn, except when it’s too late. 
There isn’t any use in taking hold of a gun,
Nothing is of help except a prayer for the sun.
There’s no telling where he’s at, or where he next will be, 
Medicine Hat or Moose Jaw, or this vicinity;
Dead Horse Creek and Kodiak Island and many, many more, 
Beaverhead and Bitterroot, other mountains, too, scars bore. 
The Sioux and the Cheyenne, Blackfoot and Navajo,
Indian lore doesn’t help anyone, as rotting corpses show.
Thro’ hail and snow he prowls along,
Thro’ rain and storm and sleet;
The man who shot him’s one gone coon,
He can just hope that they won’t meet.
No skunk will raise a stink when Wounded Bear comes near, 
Into the bushes all critters slink, all are seized by fear.
There’s no use in running, there’s no place to which to run, 
There’s no use in hiding, there are no holes that will hide;
He’s mad and he’s mean and he kills just for fun,
Wounded Bear isn’t forgetting the ball deep in his side.
There’s a chill wind whistling, sifting thro’ his hair,
There’s no other body that’s close to Wounded Bear.
Wounded Bear walks, he walks all alone,
Wounded Bear is after the man with the gun,
Wounded Bear talks, he talks to the wind,
Wounded Bear stalks the man with the gun.
Wounded Bear is coming, he’s coming with the wind,
Wounded Bear searches, he knows where to search;
Wounded Bear knows where to go, he takes and guides the wind, 
Wounded Bear looms, ’neath elm, oak and birch.
It does no good to hunt him, or to lay a trap,
Wounded Bear knows where to and where not to tread;
Nothing can help that man, Wounded Bear draws close,
The man with the gun is filled with cold dread.
The singing men watch, they sing a prayer and they wait,
They wait for Wounded Bear to meet the man with the gun; 
They sing and they wait, they sing and they pray,
They sing and they listen, but they don’t hear a sound.
They sing and they wish that it is the final day,
They wait for Wounded Bear to meet the man with the gun; 
They know that nobody will be safe in the night,
They know this will be so until the final fight.
When Wounded Bear meets that man once again,
He’ll settle his score and relieve his pain.
Until he meets that man Wounded Bear will walk,
They hope to see the day when he ends his stalk;
They hope that he will meet the man with the gun,
They wait to see him kill the man who caused him pain.
Then, maybe then, the light of dawn would show,
Then, maybe then, Wounded Bear will be whole.
Until such a time they will sing, he will roam,
Until such time they will wait, birds won’t trill, 
Until such a time they will shake, he will foam, 
Nobody will be safe until he makes the final kill.

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