My friend was stabbed 53 times.

The lab man came to draw

blood. He apologized

under glaring emergency

lights. She never cried

just said one more wound

won’t make a difference,

as her quiet laugh floated

like smoke through sterile rooms.



Jocko River’s force during spring

runoff sends boulders crashing.

If you stand on the bank

the ground shakes, it shudders

throwing your dance off-beat.

You think you might fall.

You imagine white sparks

under that white rushing water

grinding, like beastly thunder.



My mom stepped onto the highway.

Her coat flapping when she got hit

by a car, whose terrified driver

thought she was kin to the devil.

But she laughed it off. You know,

I’m one tough Indian. Walking around

with 3 broken ribs: a modern war story.

She said, that night it was raining.

The pavement was black lightning.



Boarding school blues washed

the sinner who refused to cut her hair.

Her Dad never looked back when he said,

no Ursuline style to white bibbed nuns.

From the third floor window he looked

like a wind-up toy swallowed by

September’s early morning fog.

That night she braided her hair

jagged tangled disruptive twisted.



I went back to the mountains

The pines overwhelmed my senses

The cedar trees calmed my heart

Those birds sang a lullaby

Mint hid along the streams

Protected by dark green thistles

High above a hawk whistled

A gentle breeze stroked my hair

That summer. I was their baby.



They say he was afraid

of the Indian ways. Waiting

for a holy woman to say begin

was in his spirit, in an oral history

he didn’t want to hear. Besides,

I don’t want to mix religions.

Yet once, during a winter sunrise,

he was swaddled, wrapped, smudged

in sage and sweetgrass smoke.



When I was six, at boarding school,

my hair was long and combed

into braids by impatient big girls.

One braid fat, the other thin, straggling.

My tears created a loud howl.

Those girls got into big trouble.

From then on, it was narrow

eyed stares taking me as their

crybaby, snot-nosed enemy.



I turned away from sorrow

I relinquished pain by cutting my hair

I breathed vapors of a raging river

I ran with my tattered shadow

through pounding rain, across streets

mirroring starvation in department

store windows. Skinny child,

who never learned to skate. Mom said,

We turned you into a war orphan.



I will not run away 1000 lines to write.

They hit her hand with a ruler to match

the vertical red guide printed on paper.

But she came from a woman born

premature, who survived on wild tea,

met a man who rode broncs. They headed

north, stopping to eat sunflower stalks,

where finite margins vanished in that

sunset’s blinding, spellbound light.