Here's the myth: Native Americans are people of great spiritual depth, in touch with the rhythms of the earth, rhythms that they celebrate through drumming and dancing. They love the great outdoors and are completely in tune with the natural world. They can predict the weather by glancing at the sky, or hearing a crow cry, or somehow. Who knows exactly how? The point of the myth is that Indians are, well, special. Different from white people, but in a good way.
The four young male Native American poets whose work is brought together in this startling collection would probably raise high their middle fingers in salute to this myth. These guys and "guys" they are—don't buy into the myth. Their poems aren't about hunting and fishing or bonding with animal spirits. Their poems are about urban decay and homelessness, about loneliness and despair, about Payday Loans and 40-ounce beers, about getting enough to eat and too much to drink. And there is nothing romantic about their poetry, either. It is written in the vernacular of mean streets: often raw and coarse and vulgar, just like the lives it describes. Sure, they write about life on the reservation. However, for the Indians in their poems, life on the reservation is a lot like life in the city, but without the traffic. These poets are sick to death of the myth. You can feel it in their poems.
These poets are bound by a common attitude as well as a common heritage. All four—Joel Waters, Steve Pacheco, Luke Warm Water, and Trevino L. Brings Plenty—are Sioux, and all four identify themselves as "Skins" (as in "Redskins"). In their poems, they grapple with their heritage, wrestling with what it means to be a Sioux and a Skin today. It's a fight to the finish.
Contents Introduction by Adrian C. Louis <section 1>Trevino Brings Plenty Here We Go Again Ghost Shirt Litany How To Be an Indian Male in The Early Twenty-first Century To Rid the Egg The Question No Eyes To Find the Indian Wisdom Park Sandwich Building Rooms to Sell Dreams Part Gravel, Part Water, All Indian Life Money Lakota Language Lesson with Benjamin Meals Dead Whistle Crazy Horse Nightmares She Is Now a Poem It Is Called a Chow Line <section 2>Steve Pacheco History City Elegy for a Nameless Skin Uncle Indian Country Veteran¿s Day Lonesome Night Rocks Waiting for the Barbarians Sugar Bowl Our Life Arrival Song But Tonight I Praise It Prairie Prayer The Lower Sioux Reservation: Three Scenes Wacipi Homeland Her Belly Star Quilt On the Anniversary of Her Wake First of the Month eden prairie, minnesota Brother Love Poem <section 3>Joel Waters Zoo World The Outhouse Dandelions The Linoleum Heart Wannabe Spirits Underneath An Artificial Blue Sky Rez Cars Crash Into The Turtle¿s Cracks Cherry The Cigarette Burns <section 4> Luke Warm Water Art Of Huffing Paint Blip Blip Chief Bigfoot Death Pose and the Pawn Shop Receipt Indian Health Service Clinic Welfare Bliss Martin, South Dakota Needed a Martini Waitress A Christmas Without a Dad John Wayne¿s Bullet Pizza Poem The Jesus Of Pine Ridge Reservation Casino (Fetterman¿s Revenge) This Is What Is Means To Say San Diego, California Rapid City Wino Lament On Indian Time