He said, “Walk quiet in the woods
like your grandfather’s ghost.”
He had two fathers and neither was a ghost.
My grandmother said that each
was the greater of two evils.
She said this with her eyes, not with her words.
She told me one grandfather was pure Potawatomi
and the other was the pure antidote.
She said this on her deathbed.
My father said, “Walk quiet in the woods
like your grandfather’s ghost.
You can sneak up on a white man
and slit his throat.”
He laughed in the cold duck blind
and pulled two gulps of whiskey.
That night, I looked in the mirror and saw
I was white as the bathroom light.
I followed the smooth line
of my throat where it pulsed
with the words of ghosts.
~ Greg Field
Greg Field is an artist, writer, drummer, sailor, chemist, computer geek, and network administrator. His book of poems The Longest Breath (Mid-America Press) was a Thorpe Menn Finalist, and his chapbookEnd of This Set is from BkMk. His poems appear in many journals and anthologies, including New Letters, Laurel Review, Karamu, Chouteau Review, and Kansas City Outloud II. Field has degrees in painting from the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was an elementary art teacher for thirteen years. His paintings are in private collections all over the country. He plays percussion in River Cow Orchestra, an improvisational jazz band. Upon his wife’s death in 1987, he, Robert Stewart, Miles Sandler and Maryfrances Wagner set up the Crystal Field Scholarship for a student at UMKC majoring in creative writing. Proceeds from the annual Crystal Field Scholarship Reading contribute to that fund. This poem is from Black Heart, new from Mammoth Publications July, 2014. $15.00, 84 pages, ISBN: 978-1-939301-85-7. Field reads from the book July 23, Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, 7 pm.Order online www.mammothpublications.net or by mail, Mammoth, 1916 Stratford, Lawrence, KS 66044. Mention Kansas Time and Place and receive 30% discount.
Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-2009, is author of 25 award-winning books of poetry and prose. She does individual consulting and editing, as well as workshops. She teaches in the Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies. Low is co-publisher of Mammoth Publications an independent small literary press specializing in Indigenous and Mid-Plains poetry and prose. Her poetry blog has over 400 entries, and she reviews poetry for the Kansas City Star. For more, see BIOGRAPHY. Her book of poetry Mélange Block, from Red Mountain Press, Santa Fe, assembles a geological continuum of passion, grief, and American Indian and European histories. She launches the book in Lawrence, Ks., the Raven Bookstore, June 25, 7 pm. Recent online publications are from Numero Cinq, Feb. 2014. An interview is in the Feb. 2014 Museum of Americanaliterary journal. North Dakota Q.published a special issue about William Stafford, including Low’s “‘The Way It Is’: Second Sight in William Stafford’s Poetry.”Contact information is at www.deniselow.net