Cheating

Tonight I attended the first part of a three-part poetry workshop called “Lie, Cheat, & Steal.” I signed up for it within, like, thirty seconds of hearing it existed. Why everyone in town wasn’t there I’ll never understand.

The cheating part was tonight. We did found poems and erasure poems. The instructor pointed out the most helpful technique of erasure poems, which I had never fully grasped before: Don’t try to actually read the text you’re erasing. As she said, “Once my mind starts to make sense of things, then no poems come.” Yes. Sense is highly overrated.

I wrote this found poem, taken from James P. Ronda’s book Lewis and Clark Among the Indians, 1984.

*
Ethnography

They were simply adopted as fictional relatives–
horses and mules,
villagers and nomads alike,
corn, beans, squash, and tobacco.

The scattered bones of both men and animals in a fallow cornfield.
The Americans poking and probing all the strange objects.

Neither were quite ready
to pass judgment on each other.
It was, after all,
just the beginning.

*

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