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Monday, February 22, 2016


by Isaac Mason

“Let's make sure I read this correctly: Cliven Bundy requested a federal public defender from the big, bad government? You've got to be kidding me! For 20-plus years, Bundy has shamelessly been grazing his cattle on the taxpayers' dime, and now that he's in cuffs, he'll take more government/taxpayer help? My only comment: Please call me for jury duty!”  —Bill Taylor, Letter to the Editor of, Feb. 21, 2016; Photo via The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office released the mugshot from Cliven Bundy's arrest.

When the elders
of the Burns Paiute nation
included in the 1868 treaty
by which they
ceded tribal lands
around Malheur Lake
a provision guaranteeing
"protection against bad men,"
it would be pleasing
to imagine they foresaw
the occupation of Malheur
by Ammon Bundy
and the Oregon Militia
158 years later.

When Bundy and Company,
strutting and fretting
on YouTube,
declared themselves
advocates of the public's right
to free use of the public lands,
it would be pleasing
to imagine they meant
something beside the right
to burn where you like,
to graze where you like,
to ride your four-wheeler
wherever you like,
and to bury your shit,
as the Militia at Malheur did,
at an ancient Paiute
cultural site.

Isaac Mason is the name assumed by a person working under false credentials at a major Chicago law firm. He lives with many cartons of books in a neighborhood where you would not feel comfortable. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Duende, Steel Toe Review, Polychrome Ink, and elsewhere.