From Injun

a)

 

he played injun in gods country

where boys proved themselves clean

 

dumb beasts who could cut fire

out of the whitest sand

 

he played english across the trail

where girls turned plum wild

 

garlic and strained words

through the window of night

 

he spoke through numb lips and

breathed frontier

 

b)

 

he heard snatches of comment

going up from the river bank

 

all them injuns is people first

and besides for this buckskin

 

why we even shoot at them

and seems like a sign of warm

 

dead as a horse friendship

and time to pedal their eyes

 

to lean out and say the truth

all you injuns is just white keys

 

c)

 

some fearful heap

some crooked swell

 

bent towards him

and produced a pair

 

of nickel-plated pullers

a bull winder of

 

dirty tenderness

that stiffened into

 

that low-brow ice

that dead injun game

Jordan Abel, “From Injun,” from Injun. Copyright © 2016 by Jordan Abel Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: Injun (Talonbooks, 2016)