Grover Priest was a holy man

without sackcloth,


or rosary.

Never thumped anyone

with a Good Book –

or a bad one.

Broke water in Oklahoma.

Indian Territory.

Raised red on the rez’.

Raised “right” by white.

Sheared like a sheep.

Long-knives detest long hair,

except in Custer’s case:

another disgrace.

How is one made

to fear braids?

Sacred eagle feather must go;

forgot to tickle the fancy.

Breechcloths stripped:

too many Pale People blushing.

“Savages are quite vulgar,

shamelessly rude:”

pale prudes embarrass easily.

Leather leggings – feared.

Leather chaps – for cowboy gear.

Queer perspective.

Pistol-packin’ denied.

Rifle-stackin’ applied.

Cartridges confiscated.

Quiver and bow

and arrows must go:

not even a lance

to count coup.

When Winter Hawk comes

scarce is the game.

See the nameless,

faceless –

to all but us –

seek a place

to sing their death song.

Quite a sight

a child’s empty stomach

swelling as if full.

First People on knees

remind pale fathers

about treaties

and Golden Rule.

“Please” isn’t easy for proud.

Aid and comfort come

with pox blankets:


First People

much to give

now told

“no right to live.”

Truth would say,

“Livin’s an illusion

when white claim right.”

Things can change

when a strong man stands,

and Grover stood.

Bore the mark of braves,

the sign of Dog Soldiers:


jagged and deep.

No weapons.

Empty hands.

Brave breath.

Inspired heart.

Vision quest

to Black Buffalo:


Dream narrative

by Ancient Owl:

new direction.

Naked heat,

sweat lodge,


Voice of reason,

four seasons

Great Spirit

from big sky.

Grover roves,

holy role,

medicine wheel,

hoop circle,

sage smudging,

trudging in snow,

sand painting,

tainted spirits

must go.

New visions –

no indecision.


Bill Cody,

who gets the bill

for buffalo loss?

A Nation’s cost –

too much to bear.

A blameless shaman

in an uncommon time

for shameless acts.

Revised racism.


religiosity –

with Spirit Man

confidence scam:

each bear some blame.

New Deal times two —

Roosevelt won,

Collier’s opus:

rez’ life

merely hopeless:

a distinct improvement.

Old Ones see

reservation breed


into man-child.

What improvement?

Some jingle-jangle in jeans,

but seams still split,

dreams all wet;

met the enemy

“he” is me.

“Give us this day”

“Forgive us our way”

Thirty pieces of silver

still lay on the ground.

Shaman unheeded.

Grover is told,

“Not needed today

or tomorrow.”

Title is lifted,

off rez’ Grover drifted.

Territorial goodbye

hello Texas sky.

From prophet to profit,

a Sun Dancer rancher

who looked back to see

the rez’ deep in sorrow.

A redskin in Red Rock,

red clay by the border;

a good shaman shunned

when Tribal Council judged

when pockets jingled

with Judas coins.

Red betrayed red –

mineral rights –

elemental means –

mimic “white eyes”

for jingling jeans.

Tradition is lost –

the cost to progress –

ceremonial dress tainted –

no happiness.

No sign ever shown

of Grover’s grief;

forsaking the herbs

and raisin’ the beef.

Holy he lived

and holy he died;

one thought ever-present,

my people survive! 


© JW Thomas


Wisdom of wounds

Per Imp #180001

The innocence of beauty

and the wisdom of wounds

can be a powerful combination

when harmoniously balanced.

Yet beauty’s teaching will always be

inferior to the wisdom of wounds.

Beauty is fleeting.

The wisdom of wounds endure.

The wise learn from their wounds:

yet fools see the same wound multiply,

since wounds, untreated,


Per Imp #70001

However, only a masochist seeks pain.

Like a society worshipping youth

and beauty above experience and wisdom

forever doomed to repeat

its self-inflicted wounds.

How many of tomorrow’s pains

could we be spared if we’d only

learn from the wounds of today?

There truly is…

wisdom in wounds.

Per Imp #110001

© JW Thomas