Cinnamon Toast Medicine
are afraid of cinnamon toast.
the sweet does it with the spice.
She hustled us from damp sheets
when we awoke,
pale and running from spirits.
As I got older, and roused myself - -
I'd find her gathering her skirts by warm coals,
drinking coffee smelling of spice.
She won't admit to bad dreams,
though I know she cries for her father,
who was part horse
but died in an automoblie fight.
I didn't know him in this world,
yet hear his voice from the next.
He tells me not to fear
and to put the cinnamon on thick - -
whispers that "poverty is passing for Indians,
while the colour of our world
is getting lighter every day,
nut brown bleaching to latte' - -
and what will be left
in another seven generations
only the wind knows."
My dreams overflow with language,
a babel of three, competing for my mind.
At 51, I don't need cinnamon toast too often,
except when i read Owens or Alexie.
Their work is a poltice drawing my poisons,
shadows that push and prod me
toward cliff's edge,
urging me to jump
for fear, for anger, for grief.
Mixedbloods should be able to sit above it, ennit?
We don't reflect in a fullblood mirror
that charges a scalpers price
for Native Dreams.
Getting no discount for their suffering,
generations shuffle in endless sacrifice - -
dancing in this Earth-Round-House.
I stand at the door, neither fully in, nor out.
Nodding my head to the drum,
shifting from foot to foot,
smelling of cinnamon.
Those Who Support Our Feet,
Everywhere he sees family.
Leaves shoes to feel
bound to blood and flesh,
looked that way
'cause they were
doesn't it hurt?
"doesn't it hurt to fail?"
Young Boy worries
Old Man cautions
"every body tumbles"
"doesn't it hurt to love?"
Young Boy grimaces
Old Man comforts
"every heart breaks."
"doesn't it hurt to pierce?"
Young Boy demands
Old Man admonishes
"every body bleeds."
"doesn't it hurt to die?"
Young Boy weeps
Old Man smiles
"every heart is freed!"
For the Love Of Old Words
Thousand year stories
arguing war, calling spirit, crooning love,
describing Earths birth
hid our history in the mouths of old men
to heap flame on a night fire.
We loved those rich earth words,
each gruff or tinkly sound.
Lips clung to high wavery lilt,
minds made contests of oratory
giving our universe familiar face.
A pale wind emerged from the sea
clinging to a different sound.
Fearing our unknown, arrogant and sure,
it despised how our eyes
loved this Turtle World.
Then those beautiful sounds
were denied the mouths of our children.
Penguin nuns slammed small fingers in desktops,
slapped faces, and threatening hellfire - -
crushed our sweet spoken word.
Sun climbed the mountain,
fell into the Sea, so many times
our whitened bones could not remember
and new words began to echo
between Turtles ocean mothers.
Our Children, wandering mute,
made no proud oratory.
Trapped in a voiceless cage
their red-earth minds searched silently
for echoes of an ancient song
Eyes are not the source of Vision - -
language shapes the mind,
molds us into harmony.
Old words balance us on the precipice
of fear and triumph
with an easy faith.
So from that subtle river
of our blood
we search for power
to fill fresh mouths with fertile sounds,
hummingbirds dipping into flowers - -
sipping the nectar
of old words.
Uncle says - -
"Indins make the best cowboys."
Necks already brown, legs got a natural bow,
toes turned in from scrunching-up in too-tight boots.
Grandpa talked politics with his horses,
told them jokes, commented on the weather.
Dragged Uncle to races against
half drunk cowboys and indins,
bet heavy on those small Oklahoma ponies.
Afterward, they had to sneak away to keep their winnings.
I matured wearing a southwest uniform...
boots, snap shirts, jeans worn at heel.
Those were leaner days
only Thunderbird and beans for dinner - -
(unless we went home to face Grandma's frown).
Today, my belly hangs over the wolf head buckle
my kids gave me.
Jeans cut me in half or theaten to drop to the ground,
only my old scarf fits.
Wouldn't think of punishing a horse with this tonnage,
but I know that somewhere
someone's stepping into my saddle.
White or brown, there's not much difference.
We love the smells, four hooves, and a tail - -
big sky stretching horizons
for stars we've been admiring
since the season we were born.
Tamed and settled,
I've got a hole in my heart for that life.
That dry tumbleweed, racing toward the mountains,
used to be
Love Poem (for Bernie)
"Aren't Poets 'sposed to write about love?"
Was a time my lyrics sang no other tune,
before we raised five children.
Wa-a-ay back, when Oklahoma rivers ran red
and Shiprock sailed from Four Corners
bringing me dreams of soft lips and earthy skin.
When Thunderbird wine soured my mouth,
baseball seemed a way of life,
and the Road opened her legs wide to our adventuring.
More than one pretty face drew sap from my pen
to flood a sticky page with Love.
But only one offered me her spirit and her youth.
I took it from her, like Americans stealing our land - -
After twenty- five years of her strong heart,
brown skin, and gentle hands
we live at the end of the road - -
with only occasional nightmares.
I write, from a crack between worlds, of darker themes
that draw blood, fester and seep.
Freed from alcohol, but still a slave to sugar,
I am both conquerer and victim,
wishing I were one, or neither.
She won't let me dwell on it, comforts me,
drawing down on the end of my life.
Listens, face pressed tight to rib,
feeling the drum of my heart.
We two-step to that throbbing, side by side,
softened by rain, kneaded by experience,
baked by a ruby red sun - -
two pieces of human frybread, praying to be eaten - -
All works Copyright James Blue Wolf.