This Native Skin

The world exists in a vacuum of sand and sun,
cut between wind and rock,
stained red and veined in black.
Above earth and under heaven mingle spirits,
painted purple, orange, and blue
by the fingers of the cycling Sun.

Heat breathes between ink night and bleached light
devouring mud, moist from desert rain.
But the pine buries white roots deep,
circumventing the Sun,
dipping into sweet water springs.

The world is vast,
sacred in its menace
and trusted to the few.

Pushed and pulled through the sand,
they wedge their toes between red cracks,
presiding across their their rigid earth.
Determined to stand between the mountains,
they rise with voices fronting the migrating heat.

But still, their four sacred watchmen
shutter their gazes, only blessing those within.
And beyond, the ones who were taken?
They press towards the sky:
burning brown irises for only a glimpse of
their kin through the Sun.

They are the People,
thrice and once born from under the earth
into a vacuum of sand and sun.


Artist: Black Sheep Art Collective  Mural Photograph:


Rain Man [Alternative]

I taste you on the air, Rain Man.
Are you caught behind the mountain?
The pale daughter of the sun, Rain Man,
stalks behind the storm.

We are in darkness, pitch thick,
save for the smell:
Of damp stone and dark leaves,
Tamed sand and the musk of moist fur.

I know you were here, Rain Man.
when we, the people,
were still under the earth.

Grandfather shale reminds us of that liquid age.
My fingers have traced stone spines of strange creatures,
with legs that ran over the crust land of the sea,
Alien insects that burrowed into the salted mud.

I feel forgotten when I find them.
So I lay them side by side,
concentric circles,
to lure your eyes and entice your memories.
Perhaps, if you see your stone sea sperm,
you will remember us,
the children who followed after.

Devour the sand,
wash it from where it sticks in our lungs.
Blind the gold skies black,
for the sun scorches
even our blood hardened skin.

We of the wind and the sand and the sun.
We of the sage and the stone.
We often forgotten, by you, Rain Man,
the people below the mountain.

Alternative Version posted July 7


Images: Navajo Dance-Edward S. Curtis,  Trilobite-kevinzim

Indian May [Excerpt]- Native American

White bones from a brown girl were mingled amoung the colonial graves. They say keys fill her marrow bones. To a life bygone of a scalded, now withdrawn people. These Indian bones bequeathed back to the earth. After death, her life dissected. They are careful to chip away at Mother Earth’s cradle around her bones. And then, after pages brimmed with sterile thoughts, a glass case to keep her protected.

From her cage, the Indian girl see’s little eyes, little fingers pressed against her walls. She hears clipped heals, a stampede of hoove-less mares and their daytime charges. Although they wear different clothes their cheeks remain the same smooth pink, skin never kissed by the Sun. There is another beside her. A warrior, his skin laid open. Toiled arrows lined out shaft-less, their wood and feather dissolved back into mother earth’s bosom.

“Wasn’t she beautiful?” asks a father, his own daughter bounced on his hip. She is a little too big and wiggles and squirms until her feet touch the ground. Behind the glass she sees a face. Deep brown, wide cheeked and stern, the Indian girl’s skull re-fleshed and skinned with a computer face. The father’s daughter smears an oily finger over the Indian girl’s brow. She traces her jaw line, presses her own nose as close to the Indian Girl as the cage allows.

The milk brown of her cheeks are hard to forget…

Image: Edward S. Curtis

Additional Info 1987: NYTimes


Stone House [Excerpt]

This stone house is a rippling memory, a sometimes dream sometimes seizing chill. It sits dilapidated, mutated from the old roots, a failed attempt to modernize mud and stone, this home now hallow hole. I remember a street lamp, a tendril of swinging cable, abandoned webbing of an electric spider. A top there, Crow took to roosting. Even before the Stone Home, Crow was constant. She flew above my little pick-up truck, riding the simmering wind.

It was when I was a child, when I first encountered this spirit, the wind. In my grand mother’s backyard, he proved himself the be living, breathing though the trees. And that night, he whispered to me through the crack in the window, insistent under Micheal’s chatter. My coworker sitting shot gun misted whiskey through the cabin. He was older then I, but had neither a vehicle nor the sobriety of mind to drive one. My window was cracked to release the pressure. The wind was my comfort, a new breath.

And Crow? She was there, in and out, a shadow lilting through my headlights. Together, she and I rode to take Micheal home. He had gotten off early at 6, had stolen off to the Class Act and stumbled back to guilt a ride. He gave me ten dollars for gas, and I was young, desperate to be useful, to lend a helping hand. To be like my father. A man of compassion and understanding who helped the nameless. But my father had forbade me, warned me of those nameless men and pretty little girls, of dark highways and unmarked graves. Micheal was my middle ground.




First Woman and the Wind [Excerpt]

Darkness lingered even after the People clawed from under the earth into the fourth world. All was quiet and the people believed this world to be another cave like the others. Then, the Wind threaded his fingers though First Woman’s hair. She felt his breath take hers and her heart quickened. She knew her own breathe and she had known her husband’s when they had breathed their first born into her womb. But the Wind had the sigh of an old giant and she knew they could no longer be in a cave. A creature of that size could only exist in a limitless world, one with no ceiling, with only the dirt to steady its feet.


God is Red: Micro-Responce

In the Indian tribal religions, man and the rest of creation are cooperteve and respectful of the task set for them by the Great Spirit. In the Christian religion both are doomed from shortly after the creation event until the end of the world”

Vine Deloria Jr., God is Red: A Native View of Religion 1973, pg81

Native Religion: All work together as a cycle, life and death is respected and expected. The nature of creation, which includes humanity, yearns towards balance, finds beauty and respect in sacrifice or the disruption of life for the continuation of another.

Stereotype: Native hunter who kills and prays thanks to the Creator for the animal. Saddened in the kill.

Western Christianity: Everything must be redeemed. At the perfection of creation all entities existed without necessity for the cycle of life and death. The damnation occurred, as humans committed an act of free will through sinning, so, therefor the subsequent and current pervasive condition of creation is fallen. This cycle of life and death is but an imperfection. We kill because we must, there is no beauty in sacrifice, it is a result of sin.

Stereotype? : Perhaps no specific character? Christianity is concerned with humanity.

-From the 30th Anniversary Edition, published 2003



You, my dear, went to the river,
to watch the silver fish slither upriver.

I wait and watch the sun linger high,
wait till’ nigh’,
wait ’till after the burning light
when the shadows gnarl tight.

Then I pray:
     Please, though late, my dear.
     Please, do not be as I fear.

Now the sun peeks at dawn.
So, below our tree I leave our fawn.
To her I whisper a wistful prayer,
with a hopeful layer.

‘though I know myself to be a lair:
     These words are pleading.
     They cater to my creator,
     not my daughter.

So after, swift and lilting
on ’till my strength be wilting,
on ’till my mind is my villain,
when even I can’t cling to you living.

When I think of you in the remember,
of when your eyes glimmered,
of when you breath on my spin shivered,
I run and remember,
’till I see though the timber:

all paths lead to the river.
And to a quiver,
to a gaunt man who shivers.

And their lies you, my dear,
just as I feared.

But this man,
this very bad man,
So does he,
have a she.

She sways behind,
tired from the survival grind,

and whether or not I want it to be true
she carries the weight of two.

But below her husband,
lies my husband,
you my dear, whom I trusted,
this human man, your life uninterrupted.

He looks tired,
sees me and casts his eyes skyward.

And for a moment,
I close my eyes and think,
about the pink of this man’s blood,
how it would ink,
how it would make the tips of my hooves stink.

I would payback:
my husband for hers.

But for her?
My anger slurs
for her child, that in her belly stirs.

I hesitate and think of the dawn,
and of my fawn,
a part of you, my dear,
perhaps our love will hang on.

And for the she,
and her little one to be,

I leave,
and believe:
her family for my husband,
but still I grieve.

Image: George Shiras, National Geographic