American Idol

When the whites come to plant tobacco,
first thing they do is fell all the trees
so the Indians won’t have a place
to hide. No surprise, then,
that some snow-bound frontiersman
should see the profile of a former neighbor
starting up out of the firewood.
He reaches for his pocketknife.
By spring, here’s a faithful scout,
dumb as a stump, to stand
at the corner of the trading post.
If the grain’s too pale, a little
tobacco juice rubbed in with a rag
will make an authentic-
looking redskin, spit & shine.

So here I am, two centuries later,
still playing host
to strangers’ fantasies,
flies with sticky feet,
the white moths of morning.
My wooden lungs ache with dry rot,
still waiting for a light.

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