30 November 2008

the Denver gentlemen

"Hey girl, what are you drinkin, and why you lookin so down? Come on, make that fine face of yours smile, it's more becoming!
Oh, youre workin out on the rez huh?
Hows that goin for you? chaos, right?and welfare! What about you, surviving on charity tonight like the rest, right? I bet you want me to buy you a drink. Shit, I bet right now we're on sacred land stolen from the indians! [laughter from wingmen] Comeon, I'm not trying to insult you or nothin, dont look at me like that! Cheers to the land!God bless america! Drink up, girl!"

The walls and the irony and tight jeans suddenly close in on me and I slam my club soda on the table and grab up my coat and set my jaw as they turn to watch my body leave. Outside this grief wells in my chest and I start home down Colfax walking too fast.

24 November 2008

eagle killer

is an epithet around here.
An eagle killer cant wait for the feathers to fall-one-by-one from the sky; no, he needs needs needs a whole sacred handful now just like them first pale washichu who stalked the land.

and sunday I was walkin down by the cattails and the geese when I seen a pair of bald eagles sitting still by the water in a naked oak. They were calm, well-fed, but as I moved towards them they looked at me with a certain weariness.
A few more steps and they spread their wings as wide as my height
and took off in separate directions: Southbound flew herself in slow circle towards the hills; Northward came over me and up and as his shadow swept languidly over the lake, a thousand floating geese startled and the sky filled with birds.

Id just begun pushing through the brush to find a feather under their tree--didnt have but ten feet more to walk--when gunshots echoed close over the water and I had to turn my head to run.

22 November 2008

into the deep freeze

Well, you see, Id noticed a recent element of instability in her movements—
she was of late prone to pacing in the evening like there was worn out gears under her hunching back. 'you gonna fall, gonna fall, gonna fall, you pathetic fucking disgrace,' she chanted and chanted as she eased her failing legs across the living room boards. As I recall, they creaked loudly in the cold under her weight. She paused at the sound;
then there was a long silence punctuated with snaps as they settled back into the freezing night. I called the ambulance at dawn.

16 November 2008

the brass plate and a drum memorial

Outside the old 4H building the farm equipment is slowly sinking like dinosaur skeletons into tarpits. Even with their flat tires and diesel engines heaving towards the ground they are still things that look hungry and howl as the north wind blasts through their gears and scythes carrying their cold metal in its teeth. the wind breathes up dirt and almost-snow to blow it through the long pens to bite the livestock...

but now there aint even a hoofprint to be seen; the sheep long since been sold
and the cows don't give milk no more for the arthritic hands of gnarled farmers who are themselves fossilizing under their quilts back in the hills somewhere. theres no Now here. Shit, even the brass name plates up front havent been updated since EDNA SOMMERS 1988.

however. tonight the lights are all on, and you step inside the 4H hall and it's more people even then youd see at the twice-weekly AA meetings, more people since the last great farm wife gave up the ghost and gingerbread squaredances some time back.

The big room is warm and packed and it smells like stew and wet winter jackets. There's frybread going and women four times my age are sitting in metal fold-up chairs, telling jokes in Dakota, and laughing rusty laughs.

Their many dozen greatgrandchildren are dancing around to the drum in the corner which is beating so deep the linoleum is shaking. The younger kids have started their own ritual of knocking over sodas, getting more cake, repeat.

Then suddenly the drum stops, the room falls silent and draws in a breath.
those up front start this low song that builds and charges the air with all the aching heaviness of the time we have that never stops moving even as our tongues fall away,this thing that keeps walking past all this taken land to leave everyone eventually.

09 November 2008

rush turn

a wolf indoors is not a dog. a wolf indoors is
still a wolf: striped with scars from the fights, eyes that seen kills, a nose that been buried in things spilling apart back in godless black night allyways. its gray tail might wag on the kitchen floor-- but a wolf indoors is
not a dog. I just turned off the tv and looked up behind me to find that the tail has stopped and its walkin soft now in the lamplight with switchblades for teeth. stupid me let it get between the door& my seat before i recalled that this wolf is
not a tame animal whose slow walk is suddenly snapping forward like steelmuscled trap wild blood run for my throat.