Yellow roses, wild roses,
their decades of growth,
a fierce fence between
the drunkenness
of my neighbors
& me.

***

I have known
some badass Skins.
Clichéd bad-to-the-bone
Indians who were maybe
not bad but just broke,
& broken for sure.

***

Late winter, late night,
a gentle rapping, a tapping
on my chamber door . . .
some guy selling a block
of commodity cheese
for five bucks.

***

You climbed a tree,
sat there for hours
until some kind voice
called you back home.
You unfolded your wings,
took to the air & smashed
into earth. They hauled
you to ER, then Detox
where they laughed
at your broken wings.

***

Once, I thought
I saw eagles soar,
loop & do the crow hop
in the blue air while
the sun beat the earth
like a drum, but I was
disheveled & drinking
those years.

***

Indians & the internet.
Somewhere, sometime.
Whenever a Messiah
Chief is born, jealous
relatives will drag him
down like the old days
only instantly now.

***

In a brutal land
within a brutal land
with corrupt leaders
& children killing themselves
we know who is to blame.
But we are on a train,
a runaway train & we
don’t know what to do.

***

The good earth,
the sun blazing down,
us in our chones, butts
stuck in inner tubes,
floating down a mossy
green river, speechless,
stunned silent with joy
& sobriety & youth,
oh youth.

***

She smiled at me
& got off her horse.
She smelled of leather
& sweat & her kiss has
lasted me fifty years.

***

Bad Indians do
not go to hell.
They are marched
to the molten core
of the sun & then
beamed back to
their families,
purified, whole
& Holy as hell.

Credits

Part of Songs at the Confluence: Indigenous Poets on Place, a digital event produced by Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation and Tippet Rise in collaboration with In-Na-Po (Indigenous Nations’ Poets).

Adrian C. Louis, "Skinology" from Skinology. Copyright © 2018 by Adrian C. Louis. Reproduced with the permission of the Estate of Adrian C. Louis c/o David Pichaske.