Medicine Wheels, Elephants and Rocking Chairs – Verse 1

Up on the mountain this morning. Other folks were in church.  Yeah, you know.  I got mine.

Sometimes Spirituality seems like it’s this big elephant. We’re all trying to share our piece of it, the part we know. When people get shouldered out of the way by someone claiming to have a truer version there’s an injustice done. The elephant only gets bigger.
This story about how we treat each other keeps getting mixed up in the telling. Everybody wants to be one up on the story that’s being revealed by the tribe. Everybody wants to control the message. It’s like there’s this desire to stop the suffering of unknowing, and we turn that desire into something holy or magical.
What we ought to do is just keep on listening through that suffering. Let it infuse us and inform us to be brave, to keep on sharing what we each have found. There is no person’s voice that can lead me to the land of spirit, I know. There is no one eyed savior in this land of the blind. That myth of personal power cheats us of the spirit stories that could be handed down to us through the simple dedication to retelling.

Keep listening to each other.
To each tell their own is all we have.
To each tell their own is all we have.
Over and over.
Everything else is a lie.

So, when the elephant traveled from Bali to Squamish I was busy trying to get laid.

Wait, I know that doesn’t give you any sense of a specific time. It was 2014 or so and I was coming to the end of my former life, I was unsuccessfully trying to live with my near broken back and worsening metabolism. Age and obesity are motherfuckers. I was putting techie pieces of water together at work during the day and nodding to the feather I brought from the reservation every time I passed it at home.
With every circle of the day I trudged and every nod I made to my relatives I was traveling into the past, pulling it into me without even realizing what might happen. Age and memories are motherfuckers.

The Medicine Man told me I’d find three men, they’re going to come into this story too. Don’t let me forget, but for now I’ve got to rest. Go find some other stories now. Amuse yourselves by getting smarter than me. Won’t be hard. Just don’t forget about me here in this rocking chair, I think I want to watch me some Walking Dead tonight.

Get these elephants off my mind. Got to rest.

Git now.  No whining though, of course if you’re brave your going to fall.

Whiteclay, Still, Whiteclay

From NPR’s, Around the Nation, Sunday, Aprit 2, 2017

They’re liquor licenses are coming up for vote on Thursday. All of them.

So this white town of four liquor stores and twelve residents, stationed strategically across a state line from our home and families has another chance of being shut down peacefully.

And in this article, The $6.3 Million dollar ransom that is being asked to stop murdering our tribe is definitely another area to pursue. I was surprised that evil this stark would have a pastor. It’s a complicated knot to pray about.

What this picture doesn’t show is the people sleeping it off, laying on the ground. If you kept going to the North in this picture, you could see the water towers of Pine Ridge. They are well kept up and painted. That water system, tribal owned and run, is an award winning system. I know. I’m an engineer who has worked with water for decades. So you can stand on the streets of Whiteclay and look North to Pine Ridge, which in contrast is a shining city on a hill.

I drive through Whiteclay at least once a year. And at least once a year my heart is broken. We need this on people’s radar.

I remember wondering

I remember wondering how Tom Cruise could be The Last Samurai.  I remember seeing Keanu showing up in The 47 Ronin, Al Pacino as scarface, Johnny Dep as Tonto. The stories around us are out of sync with the spiritual balance we thrive for. We want our gods and heroes, we want ourselves, to be real, and to be just.
I know that there are a wellspring of stories in the goddesses and gods we have available to us. In the ones we’re used to going to spend time with.. But I don’t know that there are stories that can help us with what it is in the world we are struggling with now. And while spending time with our shadow selves is most definitely a requirement, I think we need help, and joy, for the journey, not from old stories that seem too distant, I think we need modern gods, or heroes, to help us through this next journey.
I think about the TV show Heroes, about all the comic book heroes I’ve ever loved (thank you, Preston, for helping bring this voice out in me), about the Science Fiction and Fantasy that has carried me forward, from “I’m Batman” to “I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer ….” I think about Daredevil moving adroitly through a dark world of sound, or the X-Men’s Storm rising up like a goddess on the wind
I also think about my own Heritage’s gods. About Inktomi the trickster spider, about how we (the reclaiming community) seem to be asking the questions about how we move from a tradition started with first Eurocentric lineages, to a community of people who reclaim everything – even the present day. The last time I saw Rebecca Tidewalker she introduced me to the 13 indigenous Grandmothers, and they pointed me to my own heritage. Honestly, that direction has seemed, at times, to be pulling me away from reclaiming, not in it’s essence, but in the immediate trappings of reclaiming.  To be sure, the current day of fighting to overcome the patriarchy, and the goddess centered soul, the feminist roots, that birthed the tradition can’t be denied, or left behind, any more than “Black lives matter” can be replaced with “All lives Matter”.
But I think we may be able to open up the door to Allies.  Yeah, maybe not heroes, but Allies. We need all the gods, current and past, who can be our allies in this quest. We need all the gods who can teach us how to be Allies, How to pursue our hearts desire to understand and help, and yes, how to wait to be chosen as an ally. If Jesus were involved he might tell us that decolonization starts with going into a closet. Pray there.  Mr Miyagi might tell us to “wax on” and “wax off”. Somewhere our heart’s push to understand has a place to start.
How we get taught that, I don’t know.  Rather it is the Dragon of Bruce Lee, dealing with the anger of being passed over for the Kung Fu role by David Carradine, or Sitting Bull, traveling with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, I don’t know. I do sense that the work we seem to be moving towards with cultural appropriation and racism is calling me to reach out to the Comic book and deep Sci Fi and Fantasy worlds as much as it is calling me to the pantheons of my ancestors. One way or another, there will be Allies.
And I, like in so many times of my life, won’t have much say in what they look like.  Last year, when my sister walked on, the medicine man told me to go up the mountain and pray, that there would be three men there waiting for me.
I haven’t reached the top yet, I don’t think, but I’m still praying.

New Moon Retro

New Moon.
Black Buzz of memories.
Like leather.

It’s only been a few days since that dark moon, but I feel the pain in her leaving, see the slivered waxing crescent like an intrusion.

The human mind has place cells, particular cells that hold and carry the memories of specific places like the folds in an accordion’s bellows, deep upon deep, layer upon layer.

Around the motorcycle shop, people slept while we passed a fatty. In those days, the summer nights were full of grease and booze and drugs and motors – trying to look tough.

My mind was on fire. Like as not I was out of place again. From the moment I’d dropped my mad scientist garb as a geeky grade schooler, taken on and beaten down the bullies, turned to a unsuccessful path of juvenile delinquency, I’d never felt myself. I’d never quite lost my love for libraries over fighting, or lawbreaking, or my joy in the laboratory over figuring out who was holding a gun.  It was simply what I had to do. Every day. Step into greasy jeans.

Reci was no different.  My sister Reci, Clarice to be specific, moved to the pressures of the world that forced her down, used her up, and spat her out. Decades latter, she’d write me from prison, or on parole, text me how bad the Seahawks were.

She a cheesehead, me the hawk.
Yellow and black patterns across the sky.
Brother Sun and Sister Moon.
Me longing to be anonymous dark, blend in. Her sensing the sun, running towards the morning, beautiful.

In the end, where another beginning wrapped around to launch us, I chose education, endured seven day work weeks and poverty to achieve my engineering degree.  To this day, my bank account still reflects that.  A friend told me I live the financial life of a sex worker or an artist – either way a freelancer, no matter how stable my work environment.  Nothing gets left on the table, nothing is wasted. She would trade cigarettes and prescription drugs, I’d find myself looking in the cupboard for some left over canned meal after spending hundreds of dollars on helicopter rides.

Reci chose motherhood. Her son, so stubborn and strong would amaze us all.  His bad arm never stopped him from stepping up, and in.  His heart found love.  Aren’t these the fights we all have, no matter where we start?

Reci had been one of two sisters who married into one of two rival motorcycle gangs while I moved on into college.   That night in the motorcycle shop was one of my last summers of hanging around, peeling off the last exoskeleton of the world we’d been born into. That night  was a night I might have ended up in jail, but didn’t.

She called me decades later, I could hear her breath wavering on the line even before she spoke.

“He’s gone.” She said, before breaking down.

Robert, her only son, had been riding with his girlfriend.   He’d turned onto a highway, been run down by a semi. That moment, like so many moments that define us, are simply markers of our flights, place cells in time. And it would be the first of two climbs I did up Bear Butte, to pray, in the past few years.  One for him, and then, one for her.

I don’t remember my college graduation.  But I remember walking the streets, living there with my sister, as a child. I remember being given shelter by a black family, the water of a sudden warm summer night shower running between my toes on the blacktop, while we walked through darkness.

I’ve been the lucky one.  I laugh, love, carry on and play with my friends and my toys.  But we two -no, there were ten of us- siblings in orbits and flights that would not let us go from the gravity seeming to hold us down.   Is this too dark a hive? We were, are, the workers.  Like worker bees, waiting, sleeping …

Appearing like slackers, never rising too far.  We never had a starting point, nothing that would  direct us away from poverty and the mechanics of stacked decks and nighttime streets that held nothing. But we are only waiting. We seemingly underaccomplishing lessers …

Waiting for a dark night, to step out, unfold these maps of selfs in the codes of our genes, where the markers turn on and off.  And in those turnings around the places we walked, we’ll let the world turn us on, alive and singing, dark and light, gone and still here.

And we’ll wake up the world of morning streets and paths and doors and bridges, the places of all our dreams, where children walk and wait for the protection and nourishment of the wise.

Tatanka – Chapter 1

(four of thirty)

It’s Picking Bulls.

Muscles tensing, machine chirping, lights from city slipping into a shadowed room and the bed.  Legs wrapped in blankets and each other, the girl moving away in sleep as the young brown skinned warrior rises from sleep and reaches for the sound.

“It’s Picking Bulls”

“Yeah, so how’d you get this address” he asks rolling over to get a smoke, checking the girl in the bed as he quietly reaches down to a rifle laying below him. touching it.  It’s ready light begins to glow.The gray light of day seeping into small curtained windows.

“You should look out your window.”

Leaning a little, Michael slips the curtains, seeing past the balcony and a shadow of street, until across the constant movement and brown melt of snow he finally spots Picking Bulls at a coffee stand. Back home they call him Pick. Here he stands, between customers and traveled way, coffee in one hand, phone in the other, looking up, looking back.

“I’m sorry I have to kill you, brother”

There was something in the voice, something prayer like, then he just stops, waits, His gaze, the dark eyes, broken by others moving between the two. The street alive.

“What? I left” The young one, Michael asks, waking up now, sensing the danger of them, of the elders, of the tribe reaching out, He glances at the door, where his clothes are as she stirs.

“to where?” Pick asks, “This is the spirit world. Doesn’t make a difference if it’s the miles or planets, you know that.”

Michael looks at the ceiling. “yea, and I opted out.”

“white man’s ‘out’ got in your brain somewhere. I get it. Let’s you feel like a man … free.”

Michael can see his face moving in the sliver of vision between the curtains where they settled as he let them go. The lines of thought seem to wrinkle on Picking Bulls forehead as he stared up at a camera’s eye for a moment and then directly across the street  at Michael’s window.

“Murder will change things though. so that there is no more out. The elders are all together now, across the world “there is no more out.”

Now the young man, exasperated, says, “yea, well fuck. I just did what you all were too weak to do.”

“Maybe. You know I look at these prospectors, these steaders, around me in this oversize excuse for a town, and I ask myself do these people love their mothers less than we? Probably not. You and me were lucky to have place, to have tribe. Doesn’t make us more right, just lucky.”

“This isn’t about being right or better. I’m not here for that. It’s just maintaining the line. That’s my job. And your job now is to get ready to die … do it standing up, without hurting anyone else.”

Michael says “All by yourself, for something you don’t even know about.”

Pick’s voice is still on the phone, but Michael can’t see his face anymore.

“If it’s not me than it will be someone else,” the voice says. “Come out. I’m sorry but come out. I will carry your soul home. My shoulders are broad”

“You’re an old man!”

The older warrior chuckles, “that’s more like it. Come on out. There’s a triad park across fifth street. They let me borrow it from time to time. I’ll be waiting.”

He disconnects and through the window, the streets noise swallows every trace of him.

Those Hearts of Mine

In the early morning sparkle,
I heard her song while I worked among the turnips
While each bit of dirt clung to fingers
And weeds were moved to give room.

On my knees next to the water trough
I saw her dress, white gossamer flowered thing,
Cross my vision through the spray and splash
I made

Heard her song drift through each part of home.
Smelt the scent of her legs telling of the heat of the coming day
I heard her drift to the hills

And from the ridge,
While I brushed the roan mare,
Felt my muscles tense and work and sweat
And begin to ache for her,

I sensed her top the hill, she moved and slipped,
Away from me.

The day, her day, slipped past with each stroke of the brush,
this thing we call life,
Calling her.

Til slowly sinking
into the supporting weight of the beast
In front of me, to the pony of my dreams,
Legs finally too tired,

Tears too.

I wrapped my arms around her, felt the soft strength and
Patient heart next to me,
With every beat of a great heart,
With every sunrise,
And every spinning planet,
Moving and dancing

To the Ridge where my spirit still goes,
Come night, come a festival day,
To dance with her and them and those

Hearts of mine,
Always calls

Me away.



Brush my hair into my eyes
Things are settled
Shes gone
Feel like myself again

Then it dawns
I like it settled like this
A witche’s ground

Not hyper
Not worried

No more whirlwinds taking me away
Dawns again

My loves like Zeppelins
So weighty and hi

Down here among their guide wires though
Amid anchors. Tied to earth.

I’m just me.  Want to stay.

And wonder if my eyes can see through the grime
Of ground

If, through smudged faces, we’ll recognize each other,

It’s what’s left.
The above is wings,
Not gas and skins.

Grow wings.
I’ll know when my shoulder blades iitch.
Til then,
I’m a grounded thing, happy and myself,
Below the fiery faeried skies.

I Need an Island

“Awkward instant
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop ” -Horse Latitudes, The Doors

I need an island.
Somewhere out there on the oceans of time, back there in the past
Where children play,
And the goddess’s love gently sways.
We were a tribe then,
Our laughter was our sweet power.

I need another island
over there past the waves of choice and consequence,
past my minds eye
Where my loves wait,
Reverbating glimpses of gentle eyes,
out there in the future.

And strung between the two, safe,
I can weave my web.
Watching ripples.

And today the ancestors voices resonate along the lines.
Calling the healers.

Can you feel the guilt in your blood?
The Colonial’s weight? The conqueror’s pride?
Can I reach beneath the gunwales of this sorrows charter ship
To change the past?

Aye, I’ll go down to row.
With my hands on proven wood,
A strong back, a shared pride, toward a brighter day.

Can I carry this defeated heart that courses still?
And rise, oh rise, with my grandfather’s dreams,
A truer pride, where each upon each of us own not this land,
But each other, a care, linked by hearts

Until our chains fail.
And this lonely ocean rises,
Reaching us up to the webs of storm ripped skies,
Our time, all times, whole time.

I need an island.