Your People of the South Wind: Kansas

When we’re young, we think we are the only species worth knowing. But the more I come to know people, the better I like ravens.
― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

sun bursts on sod
clod like desert offering
solitary figure in the grass
bending to sweet grass
blood milkwort
beardtongue kiss me quick
hallowed grounds – Osage
Pawnee Otoe
dog soldiers Kiowa
Cheyenne Sioux

you find quilts of relatives
this Kansas like a stone blasted
from heaven, you touch beads
DNA now in digital form
some tendril of sage root
possible lineage, you gather
memory, narratives, clans and families
silver tones in photographic renderings

we see and touch together
two languages burnt by memories
far and wide touchstones separated
derived of different gravitational
pulls, yet a bond, gentle
ripples of conjoined memory
pull us into yokes of rivers converged

moons now tied to Sitka and Fir
drainages fleeting into Columbia
acrid tastes from cedar seepage
invasive species like French broom
enchanting on slopes draining
Mount Hood mists

you float in cavalcades of dreams
some beginning like a knife to souls
finding brittle bones, flecks of spearheads
travois of your keepings, offerings
to a time quickly vanishing
into muddy modern worlds
of timetables, blips, beeps

Lakota drum is painted with families
coda, inside a tether of deer ligament
across the skin, sealed particles
of strength, thimble and coyote tooth
blue silk ribbon, cowrie shell

one day you will uncover
these people’s codes
listen to the south wind
dredging Mount Sunflower
highest peak in Kansas

Paul Kirk Haeder has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. A forthcoming book (Dec. 15, 2016), Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber, looks at 10 years of his writing at Dissident Voice, and before, to bring defiance to the world that is now lobotomizing at a rate never before seen in history. Read his autobiography, weekly chapter installments, at LA Progressive. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.