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Stephen M Armstrong

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HOUSE CALL As young Dr. Knox Chamblee struggles to establish a medical practice in a southern town, both his social and professional conquests are derailed by a psychotic..  
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A Bad Dream
by Stephen M Armstrong
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
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Recent poems by Stephen M Armstrong
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This is a lament for Native Americans

A Bad Dream

With blurred eyes barely opened I see a small dark irregular circle with spokes radiating from it. The vision resembles...yes, it resembles the whites’ wagon wheels but less refined and more temporal. There is a familiar and pleasant scent that surrounds, and I watch the burning-oak-smoke aim for the small circle and be sucked into it like the whirlpools in the stream. My eyes clear and I remember that I am looking up from the floor of my father’s lodge, surrounded by leather and feather and fur. I look from side to side and see my father, a great chief, sleeping beside my mother. They are snug beneath a buffalo robe and their serenity stands in contrast to the power and influence they wield over the tribe. My father has led the braves in many conflicts and my mother rallies the women and children when fight or flight is necessary.

I have slept soundly after a hard ride from the Powder; I brought news of a large column of soldiers, accompanied by their dozens of wagons. A One-Star leads them and their wagons cut ruts in the earth; merely by rolling and riding they make a road where there was no road. The hooves and wheels crunch the grass until it disappears and what is left is dust if dry, mud if wet. The soldiers have come in violation of the treaty, which guaranteed that no whites or roads would come this way. My father received the news with brief concern, but thought that surely there was an exaggeration in the report. This morning he would send scouts, to be sure, but there was nothing to be immediately worried about. I rest in his judgment; I must have overreacted because of my youth and inexperience.

Apparently I fall asleep again and have a terrible nightmare. In my dream I hear a loud crash and some whoops and feel a snake bite me in the thigh. I sit up to grab my leg and hear more and louder yells and crashes, zinging hums. Thudding around me draws my glance to the bed of my parents where I see my mother’s head gushing blood and my father leaping toward the lodge-flap with his gun. Now I hear screams of pain and outrage and the thunder of horses and the swearing of the whites amid the battle calls of the braves. I crawl quickly to the lodge entrance dragging my leg behind and see that the mounted soldiers are firing into the lodges at random and setting fire to many of them. There are braves attempting to form a skirmish line to shield some escaping women and children but they are being cut down quickly by better guns, long knives, and half-ton horses. A blue pair of pants appears two feet in front of me and I reflexively fall back. The soldier enters with a yell, and sticks his bayonet into my stomach. Before I can react I see him do the same to my mother’s lifeless body, and then I feel him pull my hair and lift it off my head.

He leaves with a whoop and my hair, and I put my hand on my stomach to feel the warm stickiness. I look up and see the small hole in the top of the lodge. The smoke is still escaping and the lodgepoles look like...they look like the spokes of the whites’ wagon wheels. My vision blurs and even in my dream my sleep gets deeper. I have been asleep a long time now.



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Reviewed by thomas armstrong
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