Poems by Abby Caplin

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Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions
    John (Fire) Lame Deer and John Erdoes

by Abby Caplin

From Canary Winter 2017-18

Abby resides on a sand dune in the Laguna Puerca watershed on a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay surrounded by the sound of white crowned sparrows, crows, hummingbirds, and a flock of wild parrots.

I learned a lot from Lame Deer,
Lakota holy man already
old in 1970.
About Wakan Tanka
who cares for us, gives us
rain, stones, insects,

Steam is living breath, he said,
stirring the pot.

The world is round
like sun fire,
animal bodies,
the peace pipe bowl passed
from hand to hand
around the seven campfire
circles of the Sioux Nation.

The Wasicun
fat-takers’ world is a jail,
sharp-edged and boxed-in.
Office buildings, locked doors,
computers, cars,
rush hours.

He told of his Santee friend
who pissed on Roosevelt’s nose,
protest for perverting
the Sacred Black Hills,
told John Erdoes how Custer’s
lone surviving soldier went crazy
not from killing, but from watching,
just after payday,

all those frog skins, greenbacks
scattered on the field,
tinder for lighting
dried buffalo chips.

Listen, he said,
I saw this in my mind
the time is coming
when, one day,
the electricity will stop.

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