Social commentaries

In The Summer After “Issue Year” Winter (1873)

I scratch earth around timpsila
on this hill, while below me,
hanging in still air, a hawk
searches the creekbed for my brothers.
Squat leaves, I’ ll braid your roots
into such long ropes, they’ ll cover
the rump of my stallion.
Withered flower, feed us now
buffalo rot in the waist-high grass.

Leap In The Dark


Stoplights edged the licorice street with ribbon,
neon embroidering wet sidewalks. She turned

into the driveway and leaped in the dark. A blackbird
perched on the bouncing twig of a maple, heard

her whisper, “Stranger, lover, the lost days are over.
While I walk from car to door, something inward opens

like four o’ clocks in rain. Earth, cold from autumn,
pulls me. I can’ t breathe the same

Reaching Yellow River

“It isn’ t a game for girls,”
he said, grabbing a fifth
with his right hand,
the wind with his left.

“For six days
I raced Jack Daniels.
He cheated, told jokes.
Some weren’ t even funny.

That’ s how come he won.
It took a long time
to reach this Yellow River.
I’ m not yet thirty,

Ghost Dance

Two hundred seventy
Ghost Dancers died dreaming
That humanity would drown
In a flood of White sins.

Then the renewed earth
Would reclaim city and town,
Leaving only Ghost Dancers
And those who lived by nature’ s laws.

History books say the threat is gone.
The Ghost Dance died with the ancestors —
Wovoka and his sacred dream
Were destroyed.

Each time it rains,
I go out to the sidewalk,
Where the tree roots
Have broken the concrete
Listening to the water’ s whispering:

Colors of the Comanche Nation Flag


Mupits’ breath, in moonlight, outside a child’ s bedroom window

Hunter’ s bones scattered on the prairie

Fragrance of Comanche gangstas who entered The Zoo Club
and assassinated the bosses of Underworld Seven,
a Navajo crime syndicate

Little Stoney Burgess’ s footprints after catching ghost sickness
by running through Post Oak Cemetery chased
by snot-nosed bully, Blender Plenty Bear


Family Tree or Comanches and Cars Don’t Mix

Spanish captive, Hoahwah, married twin sisters.
The one wife called Double
turned into a snake
after eating a nest of glossy eggs.
Snake Woman still lives on Mt. Scott,
sleeps facing west.
The sun a white skull itself
bathes her on the cedar breaks.
In rectangular dreams
she calls the young men grandson.

The other sister Tsi-yee, named after a war deed
(her father charged a cavalry office
knocked him off his horse then lanced him to the prairie)
bore three children: Tabe titah, Namnetse, and Sam Hoahwah.

International Hour of Prayer for the Yellowstone Buffalo Herd

From morning’ s mouth
the bones emerge,
a prayer is whispered
over rounded horns;
the prairie is beyond
the quivering hump
and holy smoke sparkles
released in the breath.
Braided sweetgrass,
be about their hooves;
although the grip of hunger
lies heavy on the land,
let endless native grasses grow
among the yellow stones
and between the stars.
Even if only one man had
begun to sing, actually
it was thousands, She who came
to Wisconsin farmers
and transformed their lives,

Grandmothers Land

around the house stood an
orchard of plum, apple and pear
a blackwalnut tree, one white pine,
groves of white oak and willow clumps
the home of Jessie was largely redwood

blood, flesh and bone sprouted
inside her womb of redwood
for five generations
the trees now stand unpruned and wild

after relocating so many years before the War
the seeds of Jessie have returned