Smudges of blood against yellow linoleum

on concrete

on wood

Smudges of blood on paper

and dirt

smashed into metal shed walls

slammed into dashboards

Blood smudged knuckles

and faces

and bodies

Blood in the water

soaking the fields

streaking the rocks

Blood smudges on the alter

in the pews and the aisles

Blood smudged on the knees bent in fervor

Blood to wash the lost souls clean

Blood soaked bones

buried beneath secrets and lies

Bloody remainders for scavenging, blood sucking flies.

Blood money to soften the sounds of the cries

Bloody Big Brother-

Did coins flow through the veins of your mother?



Looking over her shoulder,

she knows all that is chasing her

and that everything will catch her.

Swallowed by a swell of blinding swirls,

Photo Credit: Ayres Photography

she has already disappeared.

Her present is lost to the past.

It’s Open Link Night, Week 133 over at d-Verse~ Poet’s Pub.  This is my submission.  Go check them out, lots of great poets!


Tired of being told what to call myself.

Don’t say Indian, say Native American.

Don’t say Native American, say Native.

Don’t say Native, say Indigenous.

Don’t tell me what I am.

Entitled mouths come in every color.

I know what I am.

My children say mother.

My husband says lover.

My father says daughter.

My work says educated.

My friends say humble.

My skin says brown.

My face says Northern Plains Tribe.

My blood says Assiniboine, Sioux, Cree, Navajo, Apache.

My heart says that no one, not one person, can take away what made me.

Enrollment says associate member only.

I am not a label.

A Beginning

Dane leaned his forehead carefully against the window of the passenger back seat, the dry summer plains passing before his tired eyes in a yellow-brown blur.  His face throbbed with pain, and his mind ached with regret.  Why hadn’t he just kept his mouth shut and walked out of that bar?  Great Falls hicks’,  he thought.  That town sucks.

His father smoked cigarette after cigarette in the front seat as he drove.  Every once in awhile, the car threatened to die, lagging or jumping a little.  Each time it did, Dane just prayed that he and his father wouldn’t find themselves on the side of the road.  Dane had already suffered almost 48 hours of mind-numbing pain.  If the car died, he figured he might just try to join it.  At this point, he resented his dad for insisting on driving to the Indian hospital in Bozeman almost as much as he resented the hicks who jumped him outside the bar and shattered his lower jaw.  The people at the Indian hospital had refused to accept him, and for whatever administrative reason that his pain-addled brain could not comprehend, they had sent him back to Great Falls without any treatment.

He sighed, leaned back and pretended that he wasn’t where he was. He pretended that his brown skin and long hair hadn’t contributed to the situation at all.  He pretended that he was the one smoking cigarettes and driving, not the one broken and out of control.  As the miles passed, his mind grew calm.  The smell of cigarette smoke began to smell more like burning sage.  He kept his eyes closed and fell into a dream of days when buffalo crossed these plains.  Behind his worn eyelids, he watched the sun drop out of sight as he sat atop his horse, 150 years in the past.  In his dream, he was whole and strong. He felt the lack of nothing.

No More

In our dreams

an eagle screams.

And retribution comes.

It sweeps the land

with a generous hand.

In our dreams

an eagle screams

and shatters all the hate.

No more rape.

No more gangs.

No genocide,

No suicide.

No toxic spills

or toxic pills

no chemical rain

or self inflicted pain.

In our dreams

an eagle screams

and we dance to the same drum beat

Those who would eat

while others starve at their feet

would choke on the bones they suck dry.

Those who cause injury, misery, war

would fall into ashes and even the score.

The cries of the oppressed hushed to silence.

No more children lost to the obsession of violence.

No more men who can’t stand to look at each other.

No more stories that end with a heart broken mother.

Here, they say, too bad for your noble losses.

You will not escape judgment from the misinformed.

You stand, bare of dignity,

held to standards existent only to those who are ignorant.

You stand, with your face and your skin

blatantly telling of failure, of loss, of broken dreams.

Here, they say, we know who you are,

even if you don’t.

Your losses are known and made invisible,

Hundreds of years ago you lost everything.

Move on, get over it.

You’ll never belong anyway.

Here, they say, we love who you used to be,

but we tried to kill you all

and you’re useless now.

Here, they say, let us take what we like from you,

Let us take the beauty, the harmony, the glory, the legacy.

We think we can sell it, at a price even more severe than it has already cost you.

And people will buy it all the while looking down at you,

telling you that you come from a dead past,

that you deserve nothing,

that it’s your fault,

that you were allotted a chance

and somewhere

you failed, continue to fail.

Here, they say, you look beautiful with your traditional regalia,

Just don’t open your mouth.

Dance, they say, like puppets. Be quiet and beautiful.

You are defeated, destroyed.

Pay no attention to what the voice in your head says:

“I’m standing on the stage
Of fear and self-doubt
It’s a hollow play
But they’ll clap anyway.”

Here, they say, dance now,

spin your colors at the pow-wow,

forget the lies

and we’ll all clap anyway.


Ft. Peck by Alex Sakarissen

Photo credit: Alex Sakariassen

Sleeping under my skin
are traces of shadows left behind.
My steps echo of the past,
and ring of moving forward.
My jaw is set against my own questions.
I try not to pay attention to what I tell myself
most of the time.
On the plains, where the sky marries the land in a sunset ceremony,
the souls of my ancestors bled and died.
The ghosts of real people,
whose descendants sleep in the beds of backhanded poverty and abuse,
whisper from the grasses…
as the wind slowly sweeps across the Ft. Peck prairie.
Scars of the past manifest in the shadows that follow me,
My heart is in the sky,
in the dirt,
in the green of the earth, 
and I am torn.
I am a child of warriors dead and gone,
of generations of glorious women silenced.
My soul roars in tired revolutions, 
quieted by necessity.
I have not disappeared.


This is my submission to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting The Bar.  I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to have my poetry read and read other’s work.  I encourage anyone with an interest to check out their site.