Sentiments of the Southwest #2

Another entry for Mish’s prompt to write poems about the Southwest inspired by her photographs. I did a haibun for this based on an experience during university, years ago. Mish’s photo reminds me of the Badlands.

Names Under the Stars
“Come home with me after we finish here. Come meet my mom, my people.” We had left the campsite along with another student and carefully climbing, made our way to the kiva we had explored earlier that day. Cold black night lit only by the galaxy of stars and the huge full moon. We sat in the bottom, smell of fresh soil and mold around us. Griff smelled as he always did of amber and patchouli. Beth moved closer to him for warmth as did I. But he was speaking to me. “This is a night that calls for smoke.” And so he pulled out a small pipe and charged with fragrant sensemilla buds. Long and slow he drew in the smoke as he held the match over a now glowing bed of red. “In the smoke, there can be only truth.” Nakota Sioux, Griff took this seriously. He held in the smoke long and then passed the small pipe to me. And then I to Beth, who choked before giving the pipe back to him.

The unsilence around us hummed: bats, the slither of lizards or a snake, the tiny chirp of a searching desert mouse, a slough of wind through the caves. Above, the stars glowed. The Milky Way in its endless swirl, the light finally reaching us on its ages old journey. Griff put his arm around my shoulders, “Come with me home to Pine River Reservation. Come and have a breakfast of fry bread and honey from my uncle’s bees, toast made from government cheese and government dried milk in our coffee.” The words were bitter but his voice was calm. “We all of us ranged this land. Until we were cheated and murdered and driven onto useless lands. I am a child of the Badlands.” I shivered and looked again up at the ancient stars who had witness all the evils of the earth. And had witnessed good. I pulled my wooden flute from the small pack I carried. “I’ll go. We’ll read the names on the memorial. We’ll clean up trash.”. He laughed. “Yes we will. You know, my real name? Have I told you? I’m named after Number 75 – Strong Fox.” I began to play a soft tune for the stars above me who knew all of those whose names were on the memorial. All one hundred and eighty-five.

The names are those of
Families – men women children –
Frozen in death in harsh snow.

copyright by Mish. Used by permission.

copyright by Mish. Used by permission.

The Sacred Tree is Dead – d’Verse Poetics

Grace is tending pub for us today. She has given to us an incredible poetic performance and poem by Loyce Gayo who was born in Tanzania and currently pursuing a degree in African and African Diaspora Studies with a Minor in Mathematics at the University of Texas in Austin. Not a comfortable poem by any means. And I pray you are not comfortable reading/listening. We are prompted to write poetry today based on “How We Forget”.  Here is the link:  My poem is also linked here.  With deep respect, I submit my submission for this.

The Sacred Tree is Dead
“If you ever need a place to…to listen to the wind, we’ll be here”. Walter Crowhorse, “Thunderheart” movie
“It was a beautiful dream…the hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer and the sacred tree is dead.” Black Elk, Lakota Sioux

We forget by herding a people and placing them on land
No one else would own or want.
We forget we are interlopers on the shores of the country
By riding down women and children with horses
And shooting them in the back or trampling them underfoot.
Bodies twisted in heaps on the prairie grass
Frozen in the snow.

We forget to live with the earth
By bulldozing it and burying it under asphalt and McMansions.
We poison the rivers and the air
And forget for we always ask – why?

We forget by keeping nations on boundaried land –
We forget by cutting hair and teaching English
We forget by forbidding the great dance
We forget by erecting a monument with a list of names
And burying the monument in weeds
And scattered ribbons.

public domain image

public domain image


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