Monday, October 8, 2012

Columbus Day 2092

My poem originally published in Studies in American Indian Literatures (Summer 2008)


the letters flew
on Columbus Day
little messengers
landing on porches and desks
to tell the Europeans
they must leave
must imitate the salmon
and return to their homes

the Europeans had never heard
of the company on the letterhead:
Wovoka Real Estate Investment Trust
the talking heads on cable networks
were puzzled at first
they thought it was a Polish company

the trust had been hidden beneath
a coat of other names
a coat of papers and papers and papers
layers of shell companies
shells had once served the California natives
so well and had become useful again

the Europeans had been tricked
at their own game, with their own magic
-- contracts, signatures, laws, money

hundreds of paper masks were pulled
back to reveal one dancer beneath

fueled by a century of bouncing balls
spinning wheels
thick chips caressed and stacked
by the blue-haired
and the sun-starved
the Wovoka Real Estate Investment Trust
had bought every piece of America
that had been for sale
and it was all for sale

the famous Indian poet and Hollywood Squares regular
Sherman Running Jump Shot used his own
personal wealth to buy a bar
called the Crazy Horse
and close its doors on Columbus Day
-- and then set it on fire
CNN broadcast his smiling announcement:
“The Happy Hour of American History is over, folks!
We don’t care where you go, but you can’t stay here!”

the ghost dance vision was not fully realized
not all the Europeans left
since many were not Europeans anymore
they were husbands, wives, cousins, children
of the joint owners of the trust
many others stayed as well
but they paid rent
they obeyed the rules of the new landlords

everything was different
after that

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