Burn

- 1958-
Back when I used to be Indian 
I am crushing the dance floor, 
jump-boots thumping Johnny Rotten 
Johnny Rotten. Red lights blue bang 
at my eyes. The white girl watching 
does not know why and it doesn't matter. 
I spin spin, eat I don't care for breakfast, 
so what for lunch. She moves to me, 
dark gaze, tongue hot to lips. The music 
is hard, lights louder. She slides low 
against my hip to hiss, go go Geronimo. 
I stop.
All silence he sits beside the fire 
at the center of the floor, hands stirring
through the ashes, mouth moving in the shape 
of my name. I turn to reach toward him, 
take one step, feel my skin begin
to flame away.

Dear New Blood

You don’t need me, I know, here on
this podium with my poem. You
hunched in the back of the room,
tilted in your hard-earned reservation
lean. You ho-hum your gaze out the
window toward some other sky.  

Dear new blood, dear holy dear fully
mixed up mixed down mixed in and
out blood, go ahead and kick the shit,
kiss the shit from my ears. I swear I
swear I’ll listen. Stutter at stutter at me you
uptown weed you thorn you
petal, aim my old flowered face at the
sky.

I know you don’t need me, here on
this podium with my poem. You
pressed flat to the wall, shoulders
cocked, loaded for makwa, for old
growlers like me. You yawn your
glance out the window at the
tempting sky.

Wake me. Bang my dead drum drum,
clang clang my anvil my bell. Shout me
hush me your song, your shiny
impossible, your long, wounded song.
Tell me everything you know, you
don’t. Tell me, do you feel conquered
and occupied? Maybe I’ve forgotten.
Sing it plain, has America ever let you
be you in your own sky?

Sing deep Chaco, deep Minneapolis,
deep Standing Rock, deep Oakland
and LA. Sing deep Red Cliff, sing
Chicago, deep Acoma, deep Pine Ridge
and Tahlequah. Mourn. I think you,
too, were born with broken heart.
Rise. Smash your un-American throat
against the edge of the sky.

You don’t need me, I know. But don’t
go don’t look away. I need you.