Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What I See

I see the beautiful mountains, lakes and streams, the air the animals and the trees, raped in disdain
I see our pitiful children, brothers and sisters, our friends and families, perishing from spiritual pain
I see the blood of ancestors, shed while sheltering Mother Earth from degradation, falling like rain
I see a black cloud forming above, laughing, as we sink the knife deeper for personal gain
I see blindness shielding many eyes, while our Spirits shed unbound tears in vain
-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008


Have you ever had a pet that you loved because it reminded you of a thoughtful, caring, Human Being?

On August 27th, 2008 my best animal friend went out my back door to enjoy the Sun for the last and final time. Her name was Cupcake, and she was the beautiful, calico cat, who broke my heart.

She walked into a warm, gentle and calm day, or evening rather, because it was approximately 6pm when she lovingly brushed against my leg and indicated to me that she wanted the screen door opened, like a million times before, so she could go out to catch bugs, play, and enjoy the sunshine.

I don’t know what happened exactly, other than that I was tired and mindlessly-forgot her outside when I went to bed. I woke-up the next morning before 5am, in the middle of a dream where she was attempting to feed me. In the dream, I was sitting at my, our computer, hers and mine, and she had brought-and-placed a grasshopper on my keyboard before completely disappearing.

My eyes would not focus correctly and my voice came as a croak, sounding anything but Human as I frantically-stumbled to my back door, croaking, “CUPCAKE, CUPCAKE!”

I ran around my house searching and desperately calling from the front to the back, under my vehicles, under their hoods, in the front again, in the back again, all the while calling her name, and all the while dressed only in my underwear. Beginning to cross the street to expand my search, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t dressed suitably, so I ran back into my house and quickly-slipped into pants and a T-shirt. Shoeless, I searched two square blocks, calling, “CUPCAKE, CUPCAKE!”

One day passed, then one week, two weeks, and I knew that she would never come home again.

Throughout the first two weeks I prayed to God to help her find her way back to me if she was still alive and my hope remained.

By the third day of that sad incident, I was lonesome and had developed a serious bout of writer’s block. Nothing of any value would come and nothing made sense to me when I finally did get anything written.

When she disappeared I had several well paying, regular clients’ writing projects on the table. The deadlines came-and-went and I lost some valuable clients, plus $600.00 which I would have earned that week. The next week mirrored the first, in terms of clients, project completion and accepting projects.

I like to write when it’s quiet, so Cupcake and I used to do it late into the night, and many times, all throughout the night while listening to music together. On the eighth night after she’d disappeared, I played a song that until then I hadn’t realized reminded me of her. The song is by the Stereophonics. It’s called, “Dakota”. One verse goes like this:

“Wake up call, coffee and juice
Remembering you
What happened to you?
I wonder if we'll meet again
Talk about life since then
Talk about why did it end”

Listening subconsciously, I suddenly developed a huge lump in my throat and my eyes began to water, releasing a wet, watery substance that flowed-freely down my cheeks. I felt it as it landed on my chest and completed its journey. I listened to the song again and realized that the aforementioned verse was the impetus and Cupcake was the principle behind the unknown substance.

I’ve never told anyone about the song incident and this is the first time that I’ve put anything about my loss into writing. I’ve never cried for as long as I can remember and I don’t want anyone to think that I’m soft. Besides, I’m too tough and too strong. In that context, if you happen to read this humble writing, please avoid mentioning it to anyone, or I will surely lose my perceived status as a hard and seasoned warrior!

If you haven’t heard the song before, you can find and listen to it here:

I have a huge computer screen and Cupcake liked to position herself on the overhang between my keyboard drawer and screen, and when she felt that she needed attention, or that she was being neglected, on the keyboard itself.

We’d had Cupcake for about 6 years. I say about, because when someone first gave her to us because of a mouse that we’d previously-spotted in our residence, I didn’t want her and I only agreed because I knew that after she’d grown some that she’d serve as a deterrent to further mouse infestation. I think that I had it in the back of my mind to get rid of her after a while, I don’t really remember.

She began to grow on me when after about a year of watching and being with me alone at night, she hissed and slapped at my wife when my wife attempted to take something from near my computer. We call my wife “Cakes”. Cakes returned to the kitchen and informed me of the, in her words, “…near fatal attack”! I didn’t believe that Cupcake would take it upon herself to protect what she must have considered my property, and I told cakes that Cupcake was most likely yawning and stretching and that she had misinterpreted Cupcake’s actions. I didn’t believe that she would actually become defensive over my computer. Cakes swore-up-and-down that that’s just what Cupcake had done and challenged me to accompany her back to my computer where she said that I could see for myself. I went along, wanting to laugh but disguising it with a feigned cough.

My wife approached my computer hutch as far away from Cupcake’s location as possible and slowly extended her hand. Cupcake’s tail fluffed-up as she quickly got between Cakes and my computer, hissing, spitting and growling, and I laughed! I approached the hutch and reached, but Cupcake didn’t seem to notice me; her attention remained centered upon Cakes, and I laughed again!

I couldn’t figure it out at first, and it wasn’t until other family members informed me of Cupcakes’ menacing behavior toward them when they were near my computer that I finally began to realize that Cupcake was actually protecting my computer and everything on-and-about it.

Cupcake was friendly and affectionate with everyone away from our computer, hers and mine, but let anyone appear to be trying to touch it and she would get dingy!

One time my wife came into the living room while I watched TV and must have appeared to Cupcake to be threatening me, because Cupcake cuffed up her foot until Cakes made her retreat back into the kitchen.

I wasn’t paying attention to what Cakes was saying when Cupcake attacked, but she later told me that she had raised her voice to call my grandson because he’d left something that shouldn’t have been there, in the middle of the living room floor. Cakes said that she had been positioned in what could have been interpreted by Cupcake as a menacing position to me while calling our grandson. Cupcake had become my personal bodyguard besides being our, her and my, computer’s watchdog!

That incident reoccurred several times between Cupcake and anyone who was foolish enough to raise their voice while near me, even kids, but she never used her claws, she only slapped and made a lot of noise.

When Cupcake wasn’t with me at our computer, hers and mine, she spent a lot of time chasing and attempting to catch flies. She sometimes tried to feed me flies. She would suddenly-show-up from somewhere, spring-up-and-onto the hutch and lay her prize upon my keyboard. When she initially-began that behavior I would throw the nasty fly in my garbage can, or flick it on the floor, but she would retrieve it if at all possible and bring it back to me. She wasn’t satisfied until I simulated placing it in my mouth and chewing.

She only got into trouble once while trying to feed me. On that day, she brought a mouse in from outside and dropped it on my keyboard! I didn’t notice what she had in her mouth and when she dropped it and it rolled onto my lap, I hollered, jumped up, and she went down the hallway with me right behind her!

I hated grasshopper season when the screen and outer door had to be left open because of the heat and Cupcake could freely exit and enter. She was good, no, she was a World-Class grasshopper catcher, and sometimes she would bring me so many grasshoppers that I had no other option but to end her hunting excursions by closing a door.

Right now I would accept all the grasshoppers and flies in The World, and maybe even a mouse or two from Cupcake!

On Friday, September 20, 2008 my youngest son returned from work and told me of a co-worker’s generous offer of a kitten from a litter that her cat had recently had. I have a six-year-old granddaughter and an eight-year-old grandson whom we are helping my oldest son, raising them as a single parent, raise -- he has his own house but they prefer to stay with us most of the time. Anyway, when my youngest son told us of the offer, I shit you not, I was more excited than my granddaughter and grandson about the prospect of having another cat (and I’m 52 years young) but in my heart I knew that the hole in my heart would never, could never, be repaired.

I was wrong and I truly believe that God answers prayers.

I drove my son and grandson to the lady’s house during the same evening of her offer, fully doubting that anything could ever successfully replace Cupcake and still searching every fleeting shadow, hoping that she would magically appear.

Before my son and grandson exited my truck to look the kittens over, I gave them the run-down concerning what I would accept: No long hair because of my allergies and the hair-on-everything problem (Cupcake had long, shaggy hair and it irritated my allergies but I put-up with her because she was Cupcake); no males because Cupcake was a female, and to honor her I would only accept another female; and, no more than one cat, no matter what!

My directive was, as always with young people, effective, because when they returned from the lady’s residence they showed me one black and white, male kitten with long hair. I looked at the cat and verbalized my discontent, but before finishing, my grandson pulled another furry bundle from within his jacket along with, “Look papa, Cupcake!”

I turned the dome light on again, ready to verbalize more because that made two kittens, when I noticed the most beautiful calico cat since Cupcake, being gently held within my grandson’s hands, and she was a she!

She let out a tiny meow and tried to climb up the side of my face while I held her and scratched behind her ears like I used to do for Cupcake. I couldn’t believe the exact, physical resemblance to Cupcake and gave a silent “thank you” to God. When Cupcake first came into my life, she’d acted the same way and she had looked the same, except for a slight age and size difference.

The little bundles of fur weren’t even weaned from milk as we later discovered. When we tried to feed them they didn’t know what food was and they wouldn’t drink water. We tried soft canned food, hard food, raw hamburger, and an assortment of whatever else we could think of or whatever else was recommended, but nothing interested them. They failed to eat all that night and into the following evening.

They reminded us of small babies, with a wobbly, almost falling over walk and stance, and their heads appeared to be bigger than their bodies.

At approximately 5:00pm on the following evening we went shopping for milk, both canned and cartoned. Milk didn’t evoke an interest and the lady had refused to accept a return, saying that she didn’t want to get stuck with them and that if she did accept them, we might not take them again and then she might not find anyone to take them; their brothers and sisters were still with the mother and no one had shown the slightest of interest, so I kind of understood her reasoning, but not her refusing to allow the mother to feed them.

Despite not eating, they still played and bounced around, looking like large dust bunnies. My granddaughter said that they reminded her of cartoons.

Following one last discussion, we went to the store again and returned with an expensive milk formula called, Enfamil, with iron. They were so young and innocent that although they could smell the milk inside the dish, they did not know how to lap it up. They got all excited, stepped in it, spilled it, and stuck their small faces in it until they sneezed, but they simply couldn’t understand how to get it from there to their bellies.

We had another meeting where my wife suggested finding a bottle for a doll and feeding them with it. By then the store where we had a chance of locating a bottle that fit the description had closed, so I bought a bottle of Visine at an all night convenience store, figuring that if the solution could be applied to something as delicate as the eye, then, it wouldn’t be a danger to their digestive systems. I emptied the contents and rinsed the Visine bottle with hot water for about twenty thorough rinses, which took approximately fifteen minutes.

The kittens were still playing and bouncing around when I finished. I mixed a fresh-hot batch of Enfamil and squeezed and sucked the warm formula into the Visine container, which took more time. The first one to be force-fed was the smallest, the calico.

I put the tip of the Visine dispenser to her mouth and she would not open, all she did was scratch and meow. After a few tries, we realized that-that would not work, so we got a towel, wrapped her so that she could not use her claws and held her lying on her back. That worked, but with some deception. I had to first place the tip against her mouth and squeeze a few drops so the milk would run around her mouth. When she opened to lick the milk or whatever she was doing with her mouth, I would sneakily-slip the tip into her mouth and block her head so she could not move and gently squeeze until she coughed. Her cough didn’t come immediately. She would hungrily swallow as much as she could. Her cough indicated that she needed a break.

The black and white kitten’s feeding session went the same. They ate a half bottle each before we could tell that they had-had enough.

Let me see, it’s October 10, 2008, they wouldn’t touch solid food, even small amounts of soft, canned food when we placed tiny bits into their mouths until the second of October; which means that we nursed them like Human babies for about eleven days. Maybe we babied them for too long, I don’t know, or maybe they just enjoyed being lazy; who knows? In any case, they are alive, healthy and eating greedily.

I don’t remember who named Cupcake, but all eight of my beautiful grandchildren came together to name these two. They named the black and white male first. After a lengthy argument, they decided on, “Spots”. The calico female received her name without argument. The name givers unanimously decided upon, “Cupcake,” because the kitten strongly-resembles the first Cupcake and that’s fine with me.

At the moment I’m attempting to train the new Cupcake to stay on the overhang between my keyboard drawer and screen, but she keeps pouncing on and scratching my hands as I hammer-out this article!

-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Writer

The sky has begun to lighten and Natosi’s [The Sun] reconnaissance has turned its Eastern edge into a metallic blue, still animated by twinkling stars. Somewhere a siren sounds, oppressing the morning’s tranquility. In a small rundown house, a man shudders as the intrusion resonates within his soul and brings him back to the present, away from his escape, where he is most comfortable. He removes his fingers from his computer’s keyboard, leans back in his chair and closes his eyes.

He has been up all night, attempting to form short story; he has not been very successful. Fleeting thoughts and ideas came and went throughout the night; none lasted long enough for him to capture; some were beautiful, poetic images, some frightening and painful memories. “I’m all screwed up and I’ll never be capable of writing a legible sentence again,” he thinks.

His imagination begins to wander and he allows it to take him there.

Two people are standing and whispering by the back door of a small rundown house. [“Yes, that’s it,” he whispers to himself.]

Their attempt at stealth is obvious and if anyone were watching, they would suspect that a crime is about to take place, but no one has noticed. [“Good,” he thinks.]

“Where will we go; what will we do; what will happen to our families, our children, your wife, my husband?” asks a female of about twenty five years of age. [“Hmm, maybe a little older, maybe twenty nine,” his feelings lighten and he clasps his hands together.]

Her companion, a tall male of about thirty is squatting down, rolling a small twig between his fingers, staring up into her face. He says, “You are mine; we were meant to be together and as far as I’m concerned, things will be fine wherever we go! Our families will be fine! I know that you’ll miss your kids, and I will mine, but they’ll forget about us in time.” [“Great, great,” he mutters.]

She does not respond, instead, she begins to cry softly. [“Inaudibly, quietly?” his imagination takes full control and he smiles.]

He stands up and moves to her side. He wraps his arms around her and they stand silently. [He nods his head.]

A dog begins to bark on the next block, causing her to cringe and look toward the windows of the house. [“Oh yeah, g-o-o-o-d,” he says aloud and shifts his weight in the chair.]

She whispers, “You’d better leave, he might wake up and find you here.” [“Exactly!” he shouts. Clearing his throat, he happily thinks to himself, “I wonder if other writers find their muse this way?”]

The male angrily takes his arms from around her and says, “If you don’t come with me, I’ll take Amanda!” [“I don’t know about this sentence, it’s kind of ‘iffy,’” he ponders.]

Amanda is a girl he uses as a stand-in when he cannot be with the female to whom he is presently speaking. He is a bad man, a cheater, a womanizer, a philanderer of the highest caliber and he has broken many homes and destroyed many lives in the process; he has many enemies. [“This paragraph might sound callous to the reader, maybe though, hmm,” he deliberates.]

Annoyed by his statement, she looks up at the sky, and then lets her eyes rest on each visible neighboring window, guiltily searching for evidence of discovery. [“Sounds reasonable,” he says.]

“Why can’t we stay here and just keep on doing what we’ve been doing? We haven’t been caught yet, besides, I don’t think that I can live without my kids,” she says, in a pleading tone. [“Too dramatic?” he wonders.]

He turns his back to her and stares off into the distance. [“Cold, cold, no, cool, it fits his personality,” he decides.]

No words have passed between them for some time, so she begins to walk toward the door. [“Too quiet and passionless?” he asks himself.]

He turns his head and watches her as she gently opens the door, slipping inside. [“Maybe,” he utters.]

She tip toes into a bedroom and gets into a bed, where a male lies asleep, oblivious to the world. She turns her tear stained face to the wall. Feeling ashamed and depressed, she cries softly into her pillow and drifts into a shallow, troubled sleep. [“This could be a…”]

A vehicle’s horn sounds nearby and the man is startled. His eyes open and he watches the multicolored object that seems trapped, bouncing off unseen borders within his screen. “Trapped and stuck like me,” he thinks.

He listlessly enters a password and the 3D screen saver switches to the scrambled sentences that he has struggled over all night. “I must have fallen asleep,” he says to himself.

Getting up from the chair, he stretches and yawns lazily, walking to a window, he opens a curtain that reveals a sunny day.

The sunlight awakens an unsavory room, illuminating dirty dishes on the table, the countertops, in the kitchen sink, on the coffee table and on the floor near the computer. A half full coffee cup, an overflowing ashtray, a cigarette lighter and an empty cigarette pack litter the area near the computer’s monitor. The floor looks as if it has not seen a mop or a broom in days and the room and the man smell of stale cigarette smoke. Clothes lying scattered carelessly about and a blanket hanging half way off the couch complete the picture.

He picks up the blanket, shakes it and throws it over the couch. The sun’s path into the room immediately fills with thousands of dust particles. Annoyed, he waves his hand past his face and blows in an attempt at clearing the air.

Stepping from the illumination, he searches for the coffee container, locates it lying on the floor near the stove and prepares a fresh pot.

All throughout the activity, he thinks of his present circumstances and feels depressed.

Bending over the sink, he splashes water over his face and runs his wet hands over his hair and down the back of his neck. Returning to his computer, he shuts the screen off, leans forward and uses the panel as a mirror; he only sees an outline but it is enough, as he runs a comb through his hair. When he has finished he sits down and pushes the button and the screen comes to life.

The smell of fresh brewing coffee and the sounds of an awakening day replace the stale cigarette odor and the monotonous night, as the melodious rhythm of keys clicking on the keyboard bring him back to his safe haven.

-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Greed Makes The Con

One of the long time street people, “wino” to the older generation, before the euphemisms all became politically correct, is shuffling along, following a well fed, another euphemism, gentleman down the street. He’s shuffling along, off the edge of the sidewalk, as if he believes that he doesn’t deserve to be on the same level as the well fed gentleman. The well fed gentleman is strolling along on the sidewalk, laughing at everything the street person has to say and not looking in his direction. To any observer, it would seem that the street person is telling the other, one funny joke after another.

“I’ll tell you George, when we were young, you were the person who’d ask me for help,” the street person says as he stumbles, recovers, and continues, “and, and I wasn’t ashamed to give it to you either, no, I was always the first to step up and help you,” he kicks at a stray dog that wanders too close, and continues again, “Remember that time that the kid down the road from you wanted to kick your a--? Well, I was the one who made him leave you alone and he never did bother you again after I had a talk with him…now you won’t even help me out with enough for a bottle?”

George begins to whistle as he walks.

“I ain’t shi---n you George, I will pay you back as soon as my GA check comes in. I’m expecting it on Saturday. What’s today, Monday or Wednesday? I don’t know, all I know is that I’m telling you the truth this time, and how much do I owe you, about fifty bucks?”

George walks on.

“I’ll give you sixty bucks when I get it if you lend me enough for one bottle, George. Please?”

George glances at the street person, at the passing vehicles and at the store windows, where it seems that everyone is watching, and thinks, “I hope they don’t believe that I’m friends with this guy. Where are the police when you need them? This is getting embarrassing!”

“Come on ‘Bro,’ lend me something? Listen here, I’ll tell my ol’ lady to pay you back when she gets her lease money next year. How does that sound? She’ll do it too, I promise.”

George sees his destination about one and a half blocks further on, and picks up the pace, hoping to outdistance the street person, but he is matched stride for stride.

The street person notices another street person walking along with her head down, on the opposite side of the street, going in the opposite direction. He waves and hollers, “Julene, wait for me by Big Bear Alley, I’ll be right back! I’m talking to my friend and he’s gonna help me out with a jug! Wait there!” he says, signaling and waving his hands.

“I’ll sign all my land over to you when the B.I.A. building opens up tomorrow if you help me out George.”

George slows his pace, breathing hard, because he’s so well fed and because he’s not accustomed to strenuous exercise of any kind anymore, and asks, “You don’t have any land left, do you?”

“Yes I do. I have two hundred and eighty acres. It’s out by Four Horn Lake and I’ll sign it all over to you tomorrow, if you help me out today, I promise,” states the street person emphatically.

“I thought you’d sold all your land that time you moved to Washington?” questions George.

“No, no, I kept half of it because I wanted to give it to my boy. He’ll be turning eighteen, next month, I think. I wanted him to have some place to live if he ever wants to live in the country.”

George stops and turns to face the street person.

“Phew, phew, I thought you’d never stop George. I was about to quit you right back there,” says the street person, relieved and smiling.

“Huff, huff, huff, now you’re not lying to me, are you?”

“Cross my heart, I’m telling you the truth. Do you think I’d lie to you? H—l, I’m doing my best to help you out and all you can do is ask me if I’m lying? Humph. I should just walk away right now and you’d miss out on some good land!”

Breathing hard, George asks, “What would your wife and son say if you were to give me your land? Wouldn’t they try stopping you?”

A vehicle horn sounds and George smiles and waves to someone driving by in a 2008 Chevy Avalanche.

“That’s my wife. She’s probably checking on me to see where I’m at. I’m supposed to meet with her for lunch, and I was supposed to be there about thirty minutes ago. Do you see what happens when a person meets up with a good friend on the street?” he says, condescendingly.

The street person spots a snipe nearby and picks it up. He places it between his lips and asks George for a light.

George says, “I don’t even smoke; so why would I carry a lighter?”

The street person angrily throws the partial cigarette down and begins to walk away.

“Wait! Wait! Why don’t you come with me and I’ll write a check, but first I’ll get you something to eat. You’ll get your drink my friend, I assure you, you will! If I have to take your land off your hands, I think that you should receive more than a, what did you call it, a bottle?”

The street person stops and walks back to George, but this time he steps onto the sidewalk and proudly brushes some of the street dust from the front of his coat. Smiling, and obviously satisfied, he puts his hand out, expecting George to shake.

George fearfully hopes that the street person hasn’t seen, as his face uncontrollably wrinkles and takes on a look of total disgust. “I sprained my hand this morning, and I can’t touch anything with it, because even a simple touch causes the worst pain. Let me give you a rain check until tomorrow, after you’ve signed the land over, ok?” George says.

The street person says, “Listen, George, you don’t have to feed me, I’d probably lose it if I ate today anyway. Why don’t you just write a check and give me some money now? I’ll meet you at the B.I.A. office bright and early tomorrow, and I’ll sign every acre over to you. After all, you’re helping me out today, aren’t you?”

George says, “Yes, absolutely my friend!” as he scans the street, hoping that none of his friends have seen him standing with and talking to the street person. “What would they think, he thought?”

“I’m really hung over George, so if you could get me the money right away, I’d be thankful,” says the street person, and then he asks, “Is there anywhere close by where you can cash your check?”

George looks around and says, “As a matter of fact there is, I can cash one right here,” indicating a small clothing store located about ten feet from where they are standing, then walks and enters the business.

The street person waits outside the door, smiling and greeting everyone who enters or passes by.

“Twenty five dollars, man, I thank you George! You are a friend indeed to the needy street people and I’m going to let everyone know that too! I’ll bet that the next time that you run for council you make it in!” laughs the street person as George hands him the money.

Before parting company, George asks, “Now you’re sure that you’ll be there at eight in the morning, promise?”

The street person swears up-and-down that he will be there on time and they walk separate ways.

George looks back before entering the restaurant and sees the street person talking to another, before they cross the street together and enter a local liquor store.

In the restaurant, George excitedly relates his good fortune to his wife, telling her to keep it to herself and not to say anything to anyone until everything’s final. She shares his excitement and they begin to make plans for the land’s use.

The next morning finds George exiting the B.I.A. building, angry and feeling like a genuine fool, after waiting for over an hour for the street person to show. He hasn’t seen hide-nor-hair of the man and he’s late for work.

At the same time, the street person is walking along the sidewalk, following a local merchant who is out enjoying some nice, fresh, spring air. To any observer, it would appear that the street person is telling the other, one funny joke after another.

-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The late-afternoon Sun bathes the snow covered road, the fences running parallel to it, and the lonely, snow-spotted fields that eternally flow into the nearby foothills, with brightness…

An old man stands upon the road, alone, coatless, and apparently distressed; his long-White-hair hanging in three neat braids, as eyes that have seen seventy-three summers search for a wolf that he’s heard howling, somewhere in the distant hills.

It is February twenty-third, and the quiet, sunny and windless late-afternoon, begins to define another time and place for him; so-much-so, that he repeatedly calls his wife’s name out-loud…

“Natoyist-siksina -- Medicine Snake Woman…,” then absolute quiet, interrupted only by the far away wolf’s howl again, as if in response to the agonized articulations of a heart and mind that have known happier times, have known a woman’s love, and have known a World that no longer exists.

Standing quietly and listening to the wolf, he thinks in Blackfeet, “Help me my brother, my heart is hurting…”

He sighs deeply and begins to walk again; his lowered head and slow step interprets a heavy heart and grieved soul.

As he walks on, he remembers, and time passes by without notice; the World becomes a shell where his body remains; his spirit once again runs like the wind and Natoyist-siksina is with him.

They sit together holding hands, on rich green grass along a riverbank, on a clear summer day thick with the fragrant smells of honeysuckle, peppermint, fresh air and clean water, where birds fly about and sing throughout the aspen leaves, fluttering in the breeze…Natosi -- The Sun -- smiles as he showers them with warmth, light and happiness; laughter and sounds of life float from the nearby camp, filling their ears with peace, paralyzing time...they are young again…

She watches a small child splash and play in the stream, as its mother laughs; she watches a group of young boys as they return from an imaginary buffalo hunt; she watches an eagle as it soars past the Sun and he watches her.

He can’t describe his feelings for her in simple words; he lets his heart describe them with song. All he knows is that he has never seen another woman as beautiful as she is and that she owns his every waking moment, where she personifies his dreams…

She looks at him and becomes embarrassed by his obvious regard. He places his arm around her shoulders and draws her nearer. They welcome the twilight and greet the stars together…

“Ooooooohhhhh…,” and his heart draws the memory away, sending it back into its world! He stumbles and stops walking, weaving slightly. “Ooooooooohhhhh…” resounds again and he slowly turns around. A large-black wolf stands on the road from where he has just come, not more than thirty feet away.

He smiles, lifts his hand and says, “Oki Niscunnie -- Greetings my friend. Nitaapiiwa -- How are you?”

The wolf’s eyes begin to smile.

They watch each other in silence, then the old man says in Blackfeet, “My only friend has gone to the other side; have you come to take me to her…?”

The wolf watches.

Fluent Blackfeet passes from the old man to the wolf again, “I want to go with her; I’m lost without her and I don’t know this World anymore…”

The wolf begins to howl and the old man walks off the dirt road and stops, clearing the snow from an area, he slowly sits and begins to sing his death song. His heart is bursting with pride, as he sings the song that has never been sung. Tears roll down his cheeks as the wolf sings along…

An Owl flies past and all is silent.

-- Calvin Tatsey © 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008


1:00 am on a night following a day filled with domestic-disillusionment and boredom: Sonny, a Native American man in his early twenties, is about to go to bed, when a knock sounds at the door of his one room shack. He quickly looks at the single bed near the table to see if the knock had disturbed his common-law wife, who lays there sleeping. No movement, so he quietly lifts the short-two-by-four that has been braced against the door and cracks it open. Mist escapes, as warm air meets freezing temperatures, blending with the visitors’ breaths, and then rising to nothing.

“Hey brother, it’s me,” a voice chimes from outside, in a noticeably under toned slur. “Can we come in?”

“Shhhh, Beverly’s sleeping and I’ll never hear the end of it if I wake her up!”

“Awww, come on, it’s cold out here,” says the man as he playfully pushes on the door and laughs. “I see that you got a hot fire in there, aaaaayyy, and we’re cold, aaaaaayyy…! Hey, you’re actin’ too good for us, enit bro? Whasup?”

A female voice drunkenly states from outside the door, “Yeah, Sonny, we’re hungry too, ooks…ha, ha…!”

Several people laughing from outside, both male and female cause Beverly to groan and make a sound with her lips, as if she’s eating a tasty meal.

Alarmed, Sonny visibly winches and glances at the bed again. “Wait, let me get my coat and I’ll be right out, shhh…”

Closing the door, he stands and stares at the bed for a few seconds, checking for any sign of consciousness; satisfied that his wife is still sound asleep, he tip toes to the end of the bed and rummages through a pile of clothing that has apparently been thrown over a wooden bench.

Not finding what he’s searching for, he takes a step and lowers himself to his knees, gazing under the bed. His arm disappears beneath the bed and retrieves a thick, brown, Carhartt coat. He stands up and his eyes once again search for animation on the bed -- all’s quiet on the home-front…

He quietly goes to the door and hangs the coat on the doorknob, then back to the wood heater, where he opens its front. “Shit!” he whispers as he vigorously shakes his hand and shoves a finger into his mouth. Blowing on it, he thinks, “Man, I should have used a glove, damn…!”

Before exiting, Sonny stops and looks over the one room shack, which he and Beverly have shared for the past two years. “She’s forever worrying about this place’s catching on fire…,” he thought. “She’s silly,” he verbalizes out-loud and immediately holds his breath, fearful that she’d heard, as he waits for her to call his name. No sign of movement from the lady on the bed. “Thank God,” he whispers.

Quietly pulling the door shut behind him, Sonny places his finger to his lips and says, “Shhhh, don’t say anything until we’re at least a mile from here; she has ears like a cat…!”

Everyone’s laughing and trying to outdo everyone else with humor as they walk through a snow covered alley. The sky is clear and the stars are bright; the visible streetlights appear to be reflecting straight up and each footstep makes a squeaking, crunching sound. A cloud of fog like mist follows the group, precipitated by their laughter, breathing and verbalizations.

“Where’s the party?” Sonny asks Coyote, his friend and the man who’d knocked on his door.

“Ha, ha…there’s a big one going on over at Leena’s house. We were all over there when your ‘chippie’ offered a fifth of ‘B.V.’ to anyone who’d go get you, geeeeze, ha, ha…you’re quite the ladies man enit? I asked who was man enough to brave the cold with me and, let me see,” doing a 180 while still in motion, he mumbles to himself, “…three, four, five, six…seven, seven of us volunteered and not all were men, my friend; I guess these skanks think they’re men, ha, ha…! We’re all crazy, home boy, too crazy…!”

While turning back around, Coyote slips on a patch of ice and nearly falls.

Laughing, Sonny stops, blows on his hands and asks, “Okay, who’s got a bottle? I know you winos wouldn’t walk three blocks without any minioakie, napioakie, or assockitsee stuffed in your empty pockets…!”

A shivering, high pitched female voice laughs, and says, “Ohhh, I knew you were gonna ask that…! Coyote just told us that you’ve been on-the-wagon for a while and that you wouldn’t drink with us, but I knew that you would! We even betted on it, ha, ha…! Coyote, oh Coyote, yoo-hoo, you owe me ten dollars my friend!”

“We came over dry Sonny,” says Coyote.

“Aw shit and I was just looking forward to some internal warmth, Dog!”

Everyone’s laughing hard and making fun of Sonny for his shallow resolution. Sonny laughs too and the group walks on, shivering, jabbering and jovial.

A male voice from behind asks, “Sonny, I thought that you and your woman were living in The Housing Authority, housing?”

The group laughs without pausing their fast, escape the cold walk and Coyote responds for Sonny, “Shit holms, he can’t get a unit from housing; not after he f----d up the tribal chairman’s son last Indian Days…! Hey Sonny, you kicked his ass good enit, ha, ha…!”

“Gooder,” came from behind, and, “I sure wish it was Indian Days weather now, ohhh, f—k it’s cold, brrrrrrr! Let’s walk faster!”

The reference to housing evoked a feeling of guilt from Sonny’s conscience. He thought of his and his common-law wife’s current circumstances and he immediately began pondering what she’d do when she woke-up, cold, probably lonely, and with him absent... He felt sad, but thought, “That’s alright, I deserve to get away from her once in a while…she always thinks that I shouldn’t leave her side, and now that she’s pregnant, she’s even more of a burden…besides, they said my ‘chippie’s’ there; I wonder which one…?”

“Bang, bang, bang,” and the wooden door, with a piece of plastic held on by duct tape, covering a gaping hole in the window, opens. Loud laughter and voices conjoin the exiting mist as the group enters.

Sonny pauses, assures the correct “sag” and unzips his Carhartt.

They pass through the kitchen, where Sonny notices empty beer cans scattered about the counters and the table, and looks down as his shoe encounters a broken bottle.

A shrill, female voice rises above the drunken pandemonium as he enters the next room. “SONNY! Oh my love, where did you come from? Oh my God, I can’t breathe! EWWWWW…ha, ha…!”

Sonny smiles as he recognizes Janet Kills Fast and all her glory…! “She’s the one I was hoping it would be,” he thought, happily.

Janet, a young lady of about nineteen, tall, voluptuous and beautiful, with an air of sensuality, health and good living about her, physically disengages herself from a fortunate young man and seductively-saunters over to Sonny, throws her arms around his shoulders, and buries her face in his neck, exclaiming, “I’m glad that you came; I really missed you…! Will you be mine tonight, honey, hmmm? I’m lonesome and I need…”

A clamor of scraping chair legs, falling beer cans and chairs, stomping and hollers abruptly-ends her exclamations of affection, as two males rise from their seated positions and begin to fight among the scrambling partiers.

Sonny pulls his date into the kitchen, out of the way of the beginning free-for-all, where, reaching into the refrigerator, he withdraws a beer, pops-the-top and begins to gulp.

He feels his date being yanked from his embrace and drops the can in surprise. Sonny recognizes the man who’d been hugging Janet upon his entrance. The man says to Janet, “Hey, where you goin’? You’re mine!”

She giggles and turns to face him, languidly-tossing her hair, she looks over her shoulder at Sonny. “I should f—k this dude up,” thinks Sonny, and reaches to reclaim his prize.

Simultaneously, a small boy of about 2-3, totters into view and crying, enters the melee occurring in the next room. A female screams for everyone to stop and demands that everyone leave the residence, while she snatches the child up, hugs him, and backs into the kitchen’s entrance, crying and still screaming.

Sonny stops, looks at the child and at the lady, at his prize, and thinks, “This party has gone south,” as he disgustedly turns and walks to the door.

He can hear Janet calling his name, screams, hollers, and a child’s frightened cry, all growing faint as he proceeds into the frosted night…

As he enters his one room hovel, Beverly, a plain, slightly overweight lady of about 22, is consumed with the task of adding more wood to the nearly burned-out fire. She’s cloaked in a quilt from the bed, her hair’s out of order and she’s angry; but Sonny thinks that he’s never been happier to see anyone in his entire life, as he warmly says, “Hi beautiful, get back to bed and I’ll do that...”

She glares at him, sniffs, and asks, “Where have you been? You smell like you’ve been drinking!”

In the morning, Beverly senses a noticeable change in Sonny, as he literally falls over himself, in efforts toward making her comfortable and happy.

She likes it, and she smiles as she feels the baby kick.

-- Calvin Tatsey, © 2008