Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘Washo’


In the late ’90s I wrote a few episodes for a TV series called Walker, Texas Ranger. The star, Chuck Norris was very good friends with a friend of mine, and Chuck was a friendly, personable guy back in those days – plus I didn’t have much else to do – so I figured what the hell, why not dive into the money pit again. The following touches on an element of that experience that most television writers never encounter.

by Larry Brody

The last time I saw My Friend The Wild Indian

(I can still hear the bells!)

Was on the Lakota rez at Pine Ridge.

He was pointing at me and saying,


And his friends were laughing and nodding

And pointing as well.

“Washo,” they said, whooping and whirling,


So I was Washo and didn’t know what it meant,

I’d been there a month this time,

Trying to learn about life and death and the ever-blessed way.

I’d sweated and prayed and danced.

(Listen, oh, listen, can’t you too hear the bells?)

And worked and waked out on the range, and,

Visions or no, miracles or not,

“Washo” had become my real name.

It was the pointing and the laughter that got to me,

From people I thought were friends.

I was being mocked, ridiculed,

And, finally, I’d had enough, and I left.

No more Washo, not for them, not for me.

No more Friend The Wild Indian

(but forever the bells!),

The silvery, pretty-voiced hawk.

No more.

Washo retreated, a bad memory covered by false hopes

That reshaped the past.

But then, a couple of months ago, I heard it again.


But not for me.

I was sitting in the office of a television producer,

And he leaned forward and said,

“We’ve got to find out what ‘Washo’ means.”

One of the members of the cast of his show was a Sioux,

He explained, who had begun using the word onscreen.

The actor was a Lakota medicine man and singer,

And I’d met him around Pine Ridge once or twice,

But he’d never said, “Washo” to me. Now he was calling the

Star of the show Washo and grinning and carrying on.

The lawyers, the producer told me, were getting nervous.

What was the guy saying?

I had never asked about Washo when I was on the Rez,

Because I was afraid. I feared its meaning would be even worse

Than I already suspected, and that I would be hurt even more.

Now I had a chance to learn the

Truth for someone else. In a way, this was a test of my own courage.

A test I’d already failed once.

I went home and drank a lot of coffee, very dark, very thick,

Like I used to drink in Pine Ridge,

Then called the Indian School nearby.

I asked the woman who answered what Washo meant,

And at first she was silent. Then, like everyone else,

She started to laugh. “It’s guy talk,” she said,

“Although I use it too. I call my husband ‘Washo.’

In Lakota, it means—well, it means ‘well-hung.”

Now the silence was at my end of the line.

Finally, I thanked her, and I

Called the producer and said, “It’s okay.”

Then I picked up the phone again,

Ready to call My Friend The Wild Indian

(and praying I’d hear the bells!).

I wanted to apologize. I wanted to rush back to him.

I wanted to be close.

But I hung up without dialing, and haven’t made that call yet.

So long have I lived with my ignorance

That I’m still afraid.



If you enjoyed this poem, you probably would like my book of poetry, Kid Hollywood and the Navajo Dog, available at Amazon.Com for an unlimited time for exactly $0.00. Yes, you read that correctly. Unlimited time. Free. More than a Christmas present, this is my life present to you all.

Go straight to Amazon and avail yourself of all the delicious goodness simply by clicking HERE. (And if you like it, it would be great if you wrote a review. No pressure, but eventually someone’s got to, right?)

Many thanks.

Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.