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Montana Poet Laureate 2009 – 2011

Henry Real Bird's Poetry

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DRIFTWOOD FEELIN’

How much longer
Do you want
To be in the wind
Elk River’s edge
There I am standin’
Lookin’ for a feelin’
In the roar of the water
Come down river lookin’ around
Feelin’ gotta roam.

Driftwood feelin’
Floatin’ down love river
Hearts way can’t do
I’m catchin’ a ride
Driftwood feelin’
Floatin’ down love river
Hearts way can’t do
I’m catchin’ a ride
Floatin’ down love river.

Somewhere
Between the reflection and the stars
Is the feelin’ of life in love
Where you could hear
The stars in the wind
Feelin’, twinklin’, and flutterin’

In cottonwood leaves
Just a feelin’ in the wind
In yesterday from days gone by
Can I have tomorrow
From yesterday, that I borrow?

Driftwood feelin’
Floatin’ down love river
Hearts way can’t do
I’m catchin’ a ride
Driftwood feelin’
Floatin’ down love river
Hearts way can’t do
I’m catchin’ a ride
Floatin’ down love river.

From the United States of Poetry: The Land and the People, www.worldofpoetry.org/usop/land1.htm

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HOOLA HAND

Today as I let go, a hoola hand into the dawn
Among silhouetted horse heads, held by a rope corral
But then, that day was many winters ago
To good horses you are drawn
I have asked that you ride the best
Of beautiful words to create images
Of life’s reflections filled with feelings of reality
Winters many may you ride the best.

As sunlight moved in the wind
Among the shadow of an ash tree
I gave the sweat lodge a drink
In the absence of memory
An ole’ feeling sprouts
In the charred remains of life
It is customary
That I have no doubts
Wishful thoughts and prayers through dreams strive
For peace in our souls
May you ride the best
Through the four different grounds
Upon our sacred mother earth.

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RED SCARF

Boots and chinks
Silver bit and silver spurs
Eased into the dawn
To walk out kinks
Horse like shiny, free of burrs
Trotted into day
I’m ridin’ bay
If you can see the beauty
In the sunset with many colors
I only see the beauty in the sunrise with many colors
You can find me
In the beauty in the sky
In sunrise and sunset
In the shadow of the sky
Among the stars
If you can see the beauty, in the sky
You can find me, in your eye
With a red scarf on
Boots and chinks
Here I am, I’m ridin’ gone
Ground about day
Lookin’ for a stray
Red-tail hawk blessed me with his shadow
Clouds peak to my south
Granite to the west
Sheep Mountains and the Pryors
Look their best
Grass full grown
As I stood
In my heart that is good
If you can see the beauty
In the sunset with many colors
I only see the beauty
In the sunrise with many colors
You can find me
In the beauty in the sky
In sunrise and sunset
In the shadow of the sky
In the shadow of the sky
Among the stars

Published in the catalog of The Western Folklife Center’s 25th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Elko, NV, Jan. 24-31, 2009

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SELL OUT CROW

Sell out Crow.
Who are they that give water rights away?
Sell out Crow.
Who are they that take tribal hay?
Sell out Crow.
Who are they that take tribal buffalo?
Sell out Crow.
Who are they that give Mother Earth away?
Sell out Crow.
Dog called man was looking at blue sky,
As a federally funded tribe of dogs
Pull the teeth of dogs that think
That they are men. The chief of the men
Used to be the last to eat but now the
Dog chief just keeps making a sound
Like canvas ripping.
All free man wants is to be sovereign.


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TAIL THAT'S LIGHT

Goin’ on fresh snow
Snows been fallin’
Several days
The ground, all is white
Sagebrush tops
Stickin’ out of snow
Ridin’ through snow, it’s quiet
River where it goes
Just the trees are black
The ground, all is white
Where there are pine trees
It’s sorta blue, almost black
Still farther beyond
Wolf Teeth Mountains, pine trees are blue
There’s nothing, but the cold wind
Look sort of like smoke
Ash trees, where they’re thick
It is black
Gray I’m ridin’
His breath is white
Gray Ground he is like this day
My song, I’m singin’
Lookin’ around
Where the sun appears Pink, peeps out of blue sky
Goin’ to get many horses
Ridin’ Gray, they won’t see me
In white gray, blue black winter day
My son, I’m singin’.

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THOUGHT

“Thought is like a cloud
You can see thru shadow
To see nothing
But you can see shadow
When it touches something
Like that cloud’s shadow
Touching the Wolf Teeth Mountains
When the clouds touch
The mountain’s top
Or where it is high
The wind is good
When you’re among the clouds
Blurred ground among fog
You are close
To he who first did everything,”
Said my Grandfather Owns Painted Horse
We are but nomads
Asking for nothing
But the blessings
Upon our mother earth
We are born as someone new
And so then
We have to be taught
The good from the bad
What is good
We want you to know
What is good
We want you to use
In the way that you are a person

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