Of Missionaries and Indian Loggers

“You’re ugly.” A small girl, perhaps three years old, tells him as he walks past a rusty swing set. “Why?” he asks, genuinely curious. “Your skin is brown.” She responds. It’s true. Though his mom is light skinned, he could never be mistaken for anything other than Native on the basis of looks. His father’s brown skin out raced his…

Relocation

I came without hope in December rain Half-eaten by the circle of vultures Whose promises I refused to slurp A cast away crash landed Mid metamorphosis I merge With the city, the sky, puddle pocked streets A winter sludge creeping through A maze of signals and lights Truant face behind a streak of chrome Fading vertigo of the speedway whirl…

Wanderer of the Wastes

A young man, a drifter, eats alone in an alley. He huddles beside an exhaust vent to warm himself, his jeans mud splashed, caked in grime. The shoppers go out of their way to avoid him, shunning away from the struggle in their midst. Steps quicken when eyes glance, the million miles on his shoulders, the scars etched on his…

Remembering In a World of Forgetting

A mass grave stretches thirty feet across the center of Wounded Knee cemetery. Bones of the elderly, women, and children mowed down attempting to flee U.S. calvary gunfire rest there. Those bones forever render December 29, 1890, an infamous day. I look at that trench, knowing it’s one of the biggest blood stains of injustice on the cloth of American…

Hymn From Beneath the Empire’s Heel

The last poet was strangled with the entrails of the last decent man The executive looked on the 9 to 5 and said “I love the peasants of my fief!” Three feet above contradiction on the world stage The rapist priest from his pulpit tells you how to live The aristocracy pinches pennies commanding you to give I fear the…

Man the World Forgot

My uncle was a man fallen through the cracks of society. He was every story of self-obliteration you ever heard, a man whose potential was overwhelmed by alcohol. He crashed in the gutter— never quite pulled himself free. Those who knew him in his youth say he had a sharp mind. They say he was a basketball whiz. No reason…

Journey of a Dime Store Rose

A half-dead, hollow man walks home from tribal jail. With malt liquor cans in his pockets, he has spent the last three months of lease checks on alcohol. Like an Indian scarecrow, he sways. His traditional, Lakota hair braids are always oiled; the one part of himself well-kept and proud. Last of the few native Lakota speakers, he knows songs…