Turned Injun, didn’t yeh.
Riders whoop across the screen,
red skinned, paint, and painted Paints.
And the boy’s jolted by her cheers – outlaw
to his young years, music to such green ears:
Auntie Val’s rooting for the baddies.
More paint than any Lakota, those Hollywood
cowboy Injuns. Real ones she keeps for herself:
pale in black and white newspaper clippings –
Trail of Broken Treaties,’72.
Militant Indians takeover
BIA building, Washington DC, ’72.
Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge, February 28th, ’73,
militant Indians exchange gunfire with Federal officers…
Auntie’s whooping for the baddies –
And the boy receives his vision,
sure as sin carved into sacred rock:
Marlon Brando, Johnny Cash, Auntie Val red-faced.
The San Quentin Vinyl
The band’s chuck-chuck-chugger
and drum kit’s thwack-tsh rattle
at the aunt in black’s placing
stylus to the groove mesmerises
the boy. And here’s the man
that can and cannot sing; a voice busting
out the vaults of the earth.
As adrenaline-inducing: the hollers,
civil disobedience of bank robbers,
murderers that revel in this time
where the man stood to say These guys
are here, the incarcerated, their walls
wrecking-balled by words if only for just
this next chord sequence.
But for Pine Ridge, Rosebud, the reservations,
there is no vinyl of songs, or silence.
And the books on her shelf would only offer
place names to the boy – histories smug
to end at The Knee, 1890; yellowed eyes
of alcoholic Lakota imprisoned on open
prairies not suitable for black and white
plates between pages – unlike the life-serving
lead-shot red of their ancestors.
A Child’s Indians in Wales
It had something to do with stolen land;
land fed with blood, flooded above crops,
homes, graves, protests, yet still unwashed.
It had something to do with a man
believed to be able to control the weather,
influence the heavens in his rebellion.
Something to do with tongues forbidden
to chant their tales, languages denied,
cultural genocide. To do with putting on the paint.
It had something to do with the saddest
stories ever told; how they could never
have happened here. Auntie Val would have told him.
Brett Evans lives, writes, and drinks in his native north Wales. He is co-founder and co-editor of the poetry and prose journal Prole.