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