Poetry I

How Much Indian Are You

a stone's throw across the river

twenty feathers off the hawk

one fry bread worth

twenty flute songs

a bundle of tobacco

a pint of blood pumped

from my mother's heart

according to the chart

the doctor missionary

author anthropologist

will tell us our ratio

if we are authentic or not

who is telling our story

a distant relative sold

land traded for frogskins

with a small forest of trees

to close the deal

an auntie ran off with

a French fur trapper

they moved to town

bringing us forward

then down

cohabitation regulation

assimilation eradication

papers needed to cross

a line

however you measure

I'm keeping my treasure

Thinking of My Daughter

an Ocean Away

sitting on a fold-out lawn chair

pen on paper, a notebook

on my lap an early afternoon

late June

out of nowhere a dragonfly

two sets of translucent

wings fluttering, tiny

prehistoric being before me

millions of years of existence

before the dinosaur

how did she get those colors and

learn to fly like that

a perfect landing, six strong

legs firmly balanced on my hand

long mutual stares she sees right

through me

she sizzles and hesitates

pirouettes mid air - turns

four wings and darts off

out of sight into the clearing

of green woods, all this in a matter

of seconds - I close my notebook

she will be ok

Visiting Hours

A flock of geese fly by at dawn, they 

know, its time for rest on waters below.

Wind took down a hundred leaves with one

blow, swirling around like a small tornado.

I saw a loon near a waterfall sighing

it might have been from fine mist rising.

A rabbit scurried across the lawn such a tease

then scattered away with the breeze.

Cumulus clouds form a circle of azure blue

an opening where the geese shall return to.

Your time is up now, you are free to go

you fought a great battle blow after blow.

Being the brave man that I came to know

I saw you fly off with your arrows and bow

Leaving Williston

North Dakota

White plastic flowers

feathers with strips

a bright red cloth

woven around a cross

commemorating another

Native American Indian

on this stretch of road

two crosses means they

were a pair.

Telephone poles and wires,

a skeletal dog with a collar.

Shards of black rubber

from large semi-trucks

left behind.

Insects and birds

bison on yonder,

a bear a raven, yielding

to the machine.

Shimmering sweetgrass

wingashkk, scattered

on open fields, a long

stretch of road in between.

Unthreaded bales of hay

strands of wheat separated.

A hot hazy summer

breeze mixed with gasoline

air and dust.

A woman in moccasins

pulls quills from a dead

porcupine on the side

of the road for making

jewelry later, she'll lay

down tobacco and give thanks

to this elder naabeyaag-wag

in honor of his life and purpose.

She'll leave the animal

behind it's too heavy

to carry home

End of Summer

Lake Boya

summer relaxes into itself

like a slow swinging hammock

we have new wrinkles

our hair turns light like ripples

on blue lake you say with a laugh

yours is wavy, waving good-bye

your smile meets mine halfway

eyes shine like midnight moon

few words between us, we untie

the wood for the fire

smooth cloth out on the table

beneath the pine and firs

heron and seagulls descend

and rest on waters below

your hand on top of mine

let's go for that swim

before it gets late, go inside

and cook up some love

in this sweet harbor

Ground Level

one hundred thousand three-leaf clovers

some four-leaved amongst them

one golden dandelion


in this wide open space

with dividers

geese return

echoing throughout

the land

we look out

nearby chickadees

crows & sparrows

an ever-changing sky

dogs bark in unison

squirrels scurry off

a swoosh of cars

an early evening

of stillness

we rest under blankets

stars & moonlight

we know our place

habits & sounds

in this large room

without a ceiling

Tell me

your story

I want to know

tell it to me fast

slant or slow

strum it on a drum

weave it on a loom

tell me with a blink

of your quiet eyes

say it lying in

midnight grass

kneeling while

pulling out turnips

tell me what

you don't understand

take my hand

I will take yours

I am listening

I am listening

Directions to my House

once you are

on my street

at the corner

you will see

an apple tree

that was in blossom

below is a flowerbed

with tall dandelions

some are yellow

others silk-white

they stand amongst




petals scattered

all about

as if there had been

a kind of ceremony

turn into the driveway

that's where I live


Other People's Pain

Wipe a long table smooth

where moistures mingle

with a fresh wrung sponge

With other hand gather

up the details as if they were

crumbs to give to birds

Leave sponge by the faucet

for a day or two let it absorb

what its picked up

Overnight it'll get hard & dry

it's in good company with the

brillo-pad & soap

After time passed

run it under cold water

soften & rinse out

Watch dirt salt tears

drop away, turn round

then down the drain

Between both hands now

clean & wrung out

let it dry in fresh wind

with new morning light


a tiny branch in bloom

une petite exposition floral pour Ma

plucked under a harvest moon

chaque jour, tu es avec moi

Exit 32

leads to nowhere

no gas stations



toilets or


not even a place

to park

don't get

off on

exit 32

all poems © P. LeBon Herb

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