HPN

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Poetry of Issue #8        Page 49

Dance of Tears, Chief Nobody (V5)

I’m old Indian chief story
plastered on white scattered sheets,
Caucasian paper blowing in yesterday’s winds.


I feel white man’s presence
in my blindness-
cross over my ego my borders
urinates over my pride, my boundaries
I cooperated with him until
death, my blindness.


I’m Blackfoot proud, mountain Chief.


I roam southern Alberta,
toenails stretch to Montana,
born on Old Man River−
prairie horse’s leftover
buffalo meat in my dreams.
Eighty-seven I lived in a cardboard shack.
My native dress lost, autistic babbling.
I pile up worthless treaties, paper burn white man.


Now 94, I prepare myself an ancient pilgrimage,
back to papoose, landscapes turned over.


I walk through this death baby steps,
no rush, no fire, nor wind, hair tangled−
earth possessions strapped to my back rawhide−
sun going down, moon going up,
witch hour moonlight.


I’m old man slow dying, Chief nobody.


An empty bottle of fire-water whiskey
lies on homespun rug,
cut excess from life,
partially smoked homemade cigar
barely burning,
that dance of tears.



  Michael Lee Johnson