American dirt, American death

~ for Jeanine Cummins

They're digging the graves
for the books unallowed
to be held in dark complected hands,
teeth used like shovels
in a brown and faceless mass.

Pendejo! Pendeja!
Today, I am Mexican, tomorrow
Puerto Rican, or maybe Honduran,
non-binary as a taco truck
serving chewed pages for meat.

I own this blood, this land,
this dust on the bottom
of my feet, this story lives
like a rattlesnake
curled around my heart,

of you listen, you can hear it,
the warning rattle
shaking like a trauma blanket
tied to a chain link fence,
and in this desert, such sandy winds

pelt the window glass
of the privileged,
where eyes watch the caravans
of the homeless
and drip black tears like ink,

ink gathered into quill wells
and used to sign
seven figure checks for the damned,
the thief of voices,
the American writer,

undeserving of fame,
a story unearned,
let her suffer the flame
of a torch touched to her cross,
let her final words be whispers

too low to be heard.

Provocative truth teller, author of 19 poetry collections. Cat dad. Dog dad. Currently working from Portland, Oregon. Learn more at: