On the opening evening of the 2017 AIHEC Student Conference in Rapid City, students from an array of TCUs entertained conference goers with the spoken word at the annual poetry slam. Watch the video →
I awoke from a very intense wet dream. No, this is not what you sick-minded freaks are thinking of. This was a dream so vivid that all of my senses went into overdrive. This exhilarating, yet disturbing dream caught me by surprise. I have never dreamt in color. In the dream, I was a charcoal-gray wolf, running free, the cold winter wind scouring my face; the sweet perfume of the forest and the new fallen snow tickling my nostrils, the thrill of something alien to me. I could not put my finger on it, or in this case my paws on it; running from something or chasing something, I didn’t give a damn. Slowing down to a steady pace I lifted my ears into the air. The silence was so loud it would have driven a normal person mad. In my throes of ecstasy, I got a whiff of a coppery scent. My natural instincts told me it was blood. Trotting a little deeper into the woods, an overwhelming fear of death clenched my chest. The frozen ground below me was drenched in slick, slimy blood still warm to the touch.
Thirty minutes after being yanked out of that incredible dream, I went about my normal daily routine. I shit, shaved, showered, and went to the kitchen and cooked myself a breakfast that would’ve made a hungry fat man puke. I cooked a whole package of bacon, a dozen eggs, a box of waffles, and some biscuits and gravy. As I sat at the kitchen table I found myself thinking, “What the hell? There’s enough food here to feed an entire family of six!” But I was so famished I didn’t give a rat’s ass.
I clicked on the morning news to hear and see what the “White Medicine Man” had to say about the weather. He told the viewers, “Don’t bother getting out of bed today, because it will be the same shitty weather, different day.” I laughed so hard, warm coffee came out of my nose! The “White Medicine Man” was right for a change; it was shitty outside. The sky was dark and gloomy. This was a day when you like to kick back at home and let other people do all the work while you walk around in your pajamas and get stinking drunk outta your mind.
The newscast went on for another ten minutes or so, until there was an incoming report from one of the reporters on site. She was describing, in vivid detail, a horrendous crime that had happened overnight on a desolate backwoods trail. The police were stunned by the brutality of this vicious attack. They described the victim as a twenty-something, Native American male, long, black, waist-length hair with a ferocious looking tattoo of a wolf on his upper left chest. His intestines were wrapped around his neck, one arm in the bushes a few feet away, and his right leg half gnawed by what seemed to be a wild predator. Why someone or something left the face unmutilated puzzled the cops as well as the people on the scene.
I almost choked on a piece of bacon. I bolted to my feet, knocking everything over in the process. I changed the channel to another station to see if they had the same story, at the same time frantically praying that they wouldn’t. My panic quickly turned to fear when they got to the gory details as well. Instinctively, I pulled on the collar of my black UNM Lobos sweater to look at my week-old tattoo. The face of a terrifying-looking wolf snarled back at me. The air around me felt like a furnace. It was hard to breathe. The walls were turning blood red. It was as if I was being dipped in a large vat of blood and God knows what else. Then the excruciating pain hit me like someone had splashed me with searing hot water. The vile odors I inhaled were so disgusting I tried to vomit, but couldn’t! There were screams of excruciating pain far off in the distance, yet it was as if they were coming at me at an alarming speed.
I tried to get a foothold and something to grab onto at the same time, but to no avail. It was like I was floating in mid-air; I began to hear whispers and wicked laughter all around me. Next thing I felt was being violently dragged by my feet, through a tunnel by the looks of it. But it was no ordinary tunnel, it was a tunnel of thorns and barbed wire. The contraption was turning at a slow, steady pace. Trying with all my strength not to get pulled into that terrible maw, another force was shoving me ever closer to it. The pain of this torment was so unimaginable to comprehend in human terms. The next thing I recalled was little paws with razor-sharp claws slashing at me from all sides; I saw familiar faces I knew in the hideous horde that embraced me. They were the faces of people I had betrayed, hurt, and tormented in my life. Then it finally dawned on me: God had forsaken me and sent me to a place where there was no more Hope, Love, or Peace. I was in a place where I shall never rest again—never to see my loved ones again for eternity.
Ronald Dean Johnson is White Mountain Apache from the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona. He earned his GED in 1991 and has since gone on to the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he is working on his master’s degree in creative writing and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio arts. “My goals are to be a positive role model for the younger generation and stress how valuable a quality education is in order to become a contributing tribal member,” he says. Johnson thanks Elaine Upton and Evelina Lucero.