Michael Lee Johnson

Dance of Tears, Chief Nobody 

 

 

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.

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