As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Chelsey Luger – Poetry

minowe (speak well)

there’s a certain kind of poetry
in praying out loud

born of steady practice with no goal in mind no urge to impress just a life to lead and a choice to give.

there’s a certain kind of art
in offering out loud

the poets are the old ones
closer to creator

an art gently gathered over time and trust

the poets are the tiny ones
closest to creator

the art of innocence cannot be earned

the poets are those few and far between, in between
close to creator
who never forgot and won’t forget
born ancient
and intact

an art their spirits clung to

there’s a certain kind of beauty
in thanking the directions


but for most of us it’s a habit forgotten 300 years ago
but for most of us it’s something grandpa does better
but for most of us it’s somewhere in the middle of our minds


until it’s 2015
and ceremony is only saturday or sunday or summertime
and saturday or sunday or summertime is right now
and you show up
and you sit in the circle
and your turn arrives
and your confidence crumbles
and your speech sneaks off
and you want for words
and you suddenly realize that your words are your way
and you lost your way because you lost your words
and you long for your language
and you apologize in english for english and its inefficiency in expression
and you resent your command of this empty tongue
and you cannot explain what you know you feel
and you close your eyes
and you hesitate
and you chalk up some courage
and you spit something out
and you stumble a little
and you try again
and you did your best
and you are ashamed
and you feel unworthy of “was’te,” “aho,” “mmhmm”
and they understand, my girl, my boy
and they know it’s not your fault
and you love them more than everything
and you know it’s not your fault


but still you wish so bad that you could pray out loud like them

like the old ones
like the young ones
like those rare few in between

like the dream you just had
like you do alone
like you do inside
like you did before
like you will again

oh lost one
keep creator close
lost one
tomorrow isn’t saturday or sunday but please come back anyway

there’s a certain kind of poetry
in praying out loud

art, but

no galleries no museums no openings
no books no professors no preachers
no screenshots no sermons no sales
not neruda not harjo not yeats
not angelou not alexie not whitman
no pen no paper no publishers
no anthologies no academics no accreditation
not quoted not contrived not concocted

no apologies. no absence. no effort.

only instilled. only lived. only evolved
only admired, articulated, appreciated.

hear that?

smoke spoken strongly

in a circle
in time

time passed
prayer passed
pastime practiced
by the people
the people
the people




Chelsey Lugar

Chelsey Luger was born and raised in the northern plains. Her Lakota name, “Wakinyan Tokahe,” means “First Thunder.” It represents reawakening, rejuvenation, and new beginnings. She is a writer/journalist (Indian Country Today, the Huffington Post, etc.) and an ambassador/editor for Photo by Thosh Collins.  

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