Ricky Traversie is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in North Central South Dakota. His Trails From Cheyenne River was published by Greenfield Review Press. He was named one of South Dakota's Outstanding young talents by Prairie Winds.
The red sun sinking
O'er the rusty dakota plain
Heralds a reluctant moon.
God's teardrop flows through the badlands
Of the winding creek below and in the
Moon of popping trees
You can hear the children crying in the wind.
On the barren hillside stands
The sentinel church…belltower pointing
An accusing finger to the empty sky:
Names rescued from ash and buried here
'Neath the browned clay from which they came.
Tomorrow old man winter will be here
To seal this prairie tomb in a white blanket
And the ghosts of wounded knee
Will keep dancing
For another hundred years.
Stranger on Franklin Avenue
He could've been my Uncle Joe who had wrestled
With an Army Transport truck and lost
The whole leg below his left knee.
My Uncle Joe
Who toasted Korea a million times (or more)
Crashing "dead soldiers" against the wall
While I cringed behind his massive frame
In that tar-paper shack.
My Uncle Joe
Whose weak bladder filled slop buckets
Full of piss which I emptied
At the end of his long drunken sprees.
He could've been my Uncle Joe
In the way that he sathelpless
In the middle of Franklin Avenue
His wheelchair crying to be filled
Only a hand's reach away.
He could've been
'Cept he was only a fat stranger
Who had tipped over while racing traffic
In the throes of a neon light.