Sal Martinez

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When I see photos of smiling facesArtwork by Gene McCormick
on walls or Facebook
I ask myself: What was the joke?

Smiling is a genuine gift
that people of a single mother posses.
Most photos that mimic this gift
are not ones after a good joke,
a ridiculous fall out of a chair,
out of the comfort of an infant,
or the love of a thousand moons.
They are ones after “cheese,”
a command, a fabric of happiness
with designs to proves its worth
without the wind to tell its story.

Where is the gift in a trick of the mouth
frozen in the burn of the camera’s flash?
What is known is the image alone,
the rest is a fairytale…

Maybe that’s why Tusanka Witco didn’t want his “shadow” taken.

He had foreseen something
in the camera and the Man behind it
that would change his Oglala people, and tribes like mine,
for the rest of their cultural lives.

The kind that changes fishermen into war chiefs, and war chiefs
into mascots.


Sal Martinez is a proud member of the Manchester/Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians. He is a husband and a father to one son. His family currently resides in Modoc County, Alturas, CA. He works as a Security Guard at the Desert Rose Casino and has been an employee for five years.