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  November 2016
volume 13 number 2
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Greg Patrick November 2016
   

 

bio


photo by james barros

    As he was an enlisted man's son, Greg saw something of Europe and the South Pacific/Polynesia and Oceania. His cross-cultural interactions and patronage of museums/historic sites inspired him to writing. He was a student of Anthropology and History. His maternal roots drew him to the Isles of Ireland and Britain to pursue Celtic studies. He is a dual citizen of the U.S.A. and the Republic of Ireland. More so a citizen of the world. He was involved in volunteer efforts on behalf of people and the natural world and would encourage others to do that. It is the world’s poetry.

   

 

Roof of Stars: Sitting Bull

“It is harsh enough for each man to bear his own wound. But he who leads bears the wounds of all who follow him.”
― Lloyd Alexander, The High King

    I know not in a shaman’s vision what songs will replace the old chants with the new faces... what new faiths and doubts will banish the Great Spirit from a usurped land in my absence... yet that is not in my control anymore than I have control of the present... but a brave man does not want control of his world... He doesn’t need to cage or tame or remake the land around him in the image of “progress”. We don’t call it the “wilderness” nor seek to tame it... it’s unpredictability is beautiful... calming... We call it home..we don’t fear it.. How can we? We invite its myriad visions... to inspire... The sudden flash of a wolf’s eyes by the firelight... the vision of a falcon on the heights... the sudden storms of the plains... the covering of the stars by thunderclouds... It is no great matter to us..we can find our way back to the fires without the stars, we can hold the wolf at bay or share the kill... we don’t follow a regiment or timetable..the world around us has it’s own patterns... the flocks and herds we follow..not the whistle or the bugle... We don’t need roads or tracks for engines. We have our own path. We don’t need a killed whale’s oil for light... We love the darkness we see the stars by... Nothing to fear enveloped in the night as the red sun sets a final time for me...

    I don’t need to control the world and don’t pretend I can... I can control only courage within and an aspect of dignity to confront their displays of barbarity. Some take great indignation that they are disparaged as “savage” by the men in blue... but I know they cannot see us as anyone with dignity and an equal humanity... they can’t allow themselves to. Heir to only my ancestor’s courage yet no birthright before me and mine... It is my moment... I can give them no more, my disinherited blood than my example a final time... I seek solitude... to be alone with the Spirit as I must confront them on the morning...

    Hunted for sport... The very concept is so alien... Yes we cannot share this ground..I do not run... I cannot cling so to this life that I will live only to live... live in confinement or exile while I feel the ancestor’s eyes on me... I feel in the quickening beat of the heart drums of a sacred rite the rapture and sensations of the cold wind... and feel a brave’s anger feeding strength besides a stone set façade that is a force of nature like all the life and elements that hunt and storm these grounds... No battle cry but in thought... I sigh in the shivering beauty of the cold my old wounds throbbing haunting me with battles past... breath steaming... I didn’t realize I was crying, tears like ghostly warpaint trailing on my cheek... I am ready... for one last battle...

    “They are coming for you...You should leave... quickly...”... “No,” I say with a grim finality... I am standing a final time before the sight of the plains before the dimming lights... as if looking for the bison movements as I had of old before the great herds were slaughtered... Lingering for the stars..as if on a vision quest... The first belated stars appear... like a soldier at a ball who sees in a vision of beauty behind bright eyes the belle of his desire... He approaches, eyes saying “you’ll never be so beautiful as you are now”... it is our moment under the stars... Other suitors but only one moment... one last dance... one last song..before going out into the night... "They’re coming for you!”


    “Let them come... I can’t go... I’m dancing to a song with my love...” The plains before me... the ghostdance and deathsong... a lovesong to the bloodchant of the heart. About to die but never feeling so alive... Farewell then, my eyes say to the plains under the skies... A life in the way of “progress”..a life in the way of fear..I know them... the enemy... Like Custer Yellowhair and his men when he thought we were practically cavedwellers and not people of soul and spirit... Thought he could win... I know how they think even if I don’t understand why... I know how to strike back a final blow even after death... I die as all men do... but unbowed...

    They think they take all from me... But I laugh into the darkness like the trickster spirit... for I win the final battle before the night falls without me. I fall as the night does over the land... Countless stars my companions but this I must fight this alone... The door is kicked down… I remember like a fading light when I turned to my braves before facing Yellowhair in battle... ”It’s a good day to die!”... Now... watch this. And tell them what happened... In my absence... my blood..my friends: let courage be your chief... Carry the world unspoiled by vandalism of gun, ungreyed by concrete and unbloodied by slaughtered herds, bear it behind your eyes to their last closing... It’s a worthy vision...

copyright 2016 Greg Patrick