English Department

Haskell Student Creative Writing

SEVEN INDIAN POETS

The rez poet
uses Broken English
in low tones
eyes cast down

The urban poet
sounds like rap
hand gestures
emphasize words

The AIM poet
fists in the air
“We were done wrong”
“Everyone is my brother, my sister”

The found poet
burns incense
buckskin shirt
all knowing

The “tradish” poet
speaks of nature
circles the world
turns four times

the recovered poets
spill their guts
the way they used
to spill their beer

The wannabe poets
will write what
you tell them
just so it looks authentic

- Jennie James

 

ORAL TRADITION

Our oral tradition isn’t fading away
Just hard to recognize cause it has changed
Look for it hard cause it’s hard to see
When I found it, I realized it was always with me

-Mother-
Never ever follow the little people into the woods, they’ll take you away from me
Never date women with ticklish knees because that means they’re boy crazy
Watch yourself in the church of Lucifer, the whole world
Find the way to the church of God, small buildings with a cross

-Father-
He was the biggest oral tradition I ever experienced
From drunken bar fights he brought home to graduations he never attended
Success and change scared him, I won’t be his successor
He showed me how not to live, I’ll never play softball, ever

-Grandma-
“Jesus is coming back someday, even though the white society still won’t allow him in public, so look for him on a rez, aaayyyeee!”

-Grandpa-
“Kone! When things get down, this song is all you need:
Daw-khaih-yee, my-lord, daw-khaih-yee
Daw-khaih-yee, my-lord, daw-khaih-yee…

-Uncles-
Apaches- don’t bring up Geronimo
Sioux- think Black Hills is land they owned
Quarter Cherokees- Well, you know
Comanches- can’t take a joke
Cheyenne- not down with dog jokes
Choctaws- love a good joke

-Aunts-
Kiowa girls- only trust em as much as you trust yourself, they read their men like books
Comanche girls- can’t be trusted
Navajo girls- will nurture you the best
Cheyenne girls- like to stand by their man, but only if the man is always there
Apache girls- they’re alright
Sioux girls- are always up to something

-Friends-
Chief Passes Out always tells the tale of when he passed out on a floor furnace, then walked around for a week with a checkered face, remember
Chief Drinks-a-lot always tells the tale of when he had sex with a shapeshifter at a 49, then she turned into a beer and they have been in love ever since, whatever
Chief Blowing Smoke always tells the tale of the night he was staggering home and a cop picked him up and took him home for his safety, no one believes him

-Myself-
From a new generation of storytellers, a whole different breed
Telling of women I had to conquer and men I didn’t have to defeat
My story: a boy from the land of no self-esteem to a man with a college degree
Telling my kids, “It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be what you want

- Thomas Yeahpau