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Adrian C. Louis



Thank to my advanced age,

I am now a card-carrying

member of the American

Federation of Asshats.

So, this fine winter morn,

I shambled on down to

Wally World & bought

a "clap on, clap off" lamp.

Tonight, in my lonely bed,

I applauded the chilled

darkness & it vanished.

I was bathed in the birth

of pallid, yellow light.

Bored with muttering

to my ancient shadow

on the wall, I applauded

lightly & I vanished into

cold, dark night to dance

with the dear demons

of those I so loved.


One Day in the Final Week

of a Career in the Academy

Rainy rain & I had a headache

from the emails of four Nepali

students who begged for better

grades than their excruciatingly

weak English abilities deserved.

In a nutshell they said: Professor,

please consider we tried very hard &

English isn't our primary language.

I said: This was an English course!

I appreciate your effort, but I will

not raise the final grades I gave.

They asked to meet. No can do.

It was rainy rain outside, so I

assembled some extremely rare

burgers & slurped down three

stubby bottles of Red Stripe beer.

I watched Brad Pitt in A River

Runs Through It & conjured

fantasies of Montana: brook

trout sizzling in a fry pan &

the red hot lips of a succulent,

brown woman kissing me.

Kissing. Me.


In Lieu of a Communion Wafer


More often than not
growing up in poverty 
extinguishes any sense
of irony, but our humor 
(often it’s a cruel humor)
abounds & saves, yeah,
it abounds & saves us
like a big, fat frybread
saves a watery soup.

-from Electric Snakes (THE BACKWATERS PRESS, March 24, 2018), selected by Fall 2021 Guest Editor, CMarie Fuhrman 

As a member of the Lovelock Paiute tribe, writer Adrian C. Louis grew up in Nevada and earned a BA and an MA in creative writing from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Louis’s poetry collections include The Indian Cheap Wine Seance (1974), Fire Water World (1989), Among the Dog Eaters (1992), Blood Thirsty Savages (1994), Vortex of Indian Fevers (1995), Ceremonies of the Damned (1997), Ancient Acid Flashes Back (2000), Bone & Juice (2001), Evil Corn (2004), Logorrhea (2006), Savage Sunsets (2012), and Electric Snakes (2018).

A chronicler of Native American life, Louis stated his themes as “personal survival” in an interview for Geronimo: A Journal of Politics and Culture. “I’m writing about my life. I guess deep down I sort of fancy myself as speaking for certain kinds of people who don’t have a choice—for the downtrodden.” His novel Skins (1995) was made into a movie of the same title in 2002, directed by Chris Eyre. Louis also published a collection of short stories: Wild Indians & Other Creatures (1996).

Louis worked as a journalist and an editor and was a cofounder of the Native American Journalists Association. He was the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Fellowship. He taught at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota and at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. He passed away in 2018.


Victoria Chang


Victoria Chang

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