Manifest

George Perreault

Dan Namingha, Cloud Hovering #1, Acrylic on Canvas, 20"x24" ©2190

Manifest

 

Let’s not wander east into woods,

how we hacked our way forward,

but start with the blue and gray slaughter

of ourselves, Antietam, Chickamauga,

thousands laid waste at Gettysburg,

while on the empire’s western edge

pony soldiers breathe out a frozen cloud

as they slide the Bear Creek hillside;

it’s 1863, and a band of So-So-Goi,

The People Who Travel on Foot,

will be gunned into bloody ice.

 

Apaches butchered at a peace parley,

Yana at prayer, Yavapai families

lured into Skull Valley, Cheyenne

and Arapaho at Sand Creek, 1864,

another winter dawn, women and

children mostly, shot, stabbed, parts

skinned for hat bands that once stretched

to bear life, severed hands like those

that painted clan signs on Piegan

teepees proving they’re not Red Horn,

the band being hunted, but found here

camped high above the Marias River;

the major does not care, and again

it is the women cut down as they flee,

children sliced open, supplies burned,

human scraps in the below-zero night.

 

Paiute, Yahi, Nez Perce; Lakota four days

after Christmas, three hundred dead.

Afterwards, smoke drifting away, a child

wrapped in a buffalo robe, worries her dead

mother’s breast; who knows what came of this?

We hanged accountants at Nuremburg, but

Connor, Chivington, Baker, and Forsyth,

blood up to their elbows, died in their beds.