Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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A. Real. Uncle. TomTom.

Oh I wish / I was in the land of cotton / Old times
They are not forgotten. / There's buckwheat cakes
& Injun batter / Makes you fat or a little fatter.
Look / away! Look away! / Look away! Dixie Land


Dear Koda / Little Brother,

Remember us / fat on battered cans of Miller Lite: our bodies browning, slowed / by the champagne! of! beers! you reaching / with a clarifying finger toward the camouflage boy / Shawnee boy / propped up on a catty-corner barstool. You growled at his shaved head & army-issued rucksack / twisting like Quetzalcoatl’s tail around his boots. You called him / A. Real. Uncle. TomTom. / & I would’ve / said that was ingenious / what a play / on words / but you weren’t ever playing about being Indian.

Shooting / hoop after hoop on a no-net rim / hell / even swinging from cracked blacktop monkey bars / you’d tell ’em straight those white boys asking how Indian are you really? / “Us? We’re Iroquois as finding corn in your shit / Native as a thunderbird tattoo” / you proclaimed / we prayed nightly to the god of the Sioux. Tadodaho was our great grandfather / we kept / the council fire / the people’s history. 100 percent / Onondaga & don’t doubt it or we’ll run / you over with our canoe. But really

we’re polluted / as the Monongahela / Mënaonkihëla / River “where banks cave in or erode.” / That’s us / an easy top 10 / on the toxic water index / & eroding. Our granddaddy’s Injun batter whisked into pipeline oil / casseroled in plywood caskets / longing for the long rest of family / us young bodied & too poor to remember the taste / of tradition. / Forgive us forefathers for we know not what we / ’re doing. You left us like folk song / like the longhouse. For a better life. “Down toward Dixie.” But you barely made it / 300 miles / south just past Quemahoning Creek / its steep banks / “And aren’t we just the drainage,” everyone said.