Two poems by Elizabeth Robin

At Wounded Knee

i lie on my back, reading south dakota clouds
like the child i was. but i can’t summon fluffy
cartoon whales and elephants and teddy bears

here, i see jagged daggers in the sky
bayonets skewering babies, cannonballs

flying into chiefs and warriors just disarmed
at mothers and children scrambling into the gully
surrounded by hundreds of soldiers, firing at will

banish these images and trace the outline of a buffalo’s
fleecy hump, immense horned head bent, fleeing

until it dissolves into a husk of silver dollars
and rotting meat, legacy of a people who take
what pays ……..,,,….and take …………..and take

until it disappears. a treaty, when inconvenient
conjures the escape clause to justify the slaughter

and a trail of tearmakers who won’t believe
in dreamcatchers ……………………or ghost shirts

they just look at clouds
………………….and wonder how to turn a profit

 

at the Lakota Wounded Knee Memorial, South Dakota

 

The Wild West

my spirit whirls like a dust devil
a mystery energy that soars, vanishes

the fear: what goes on
whispered in grocery lines
sketchy corner liquor marts
a local pharmacy queue

people live behind gates in trailer parks
new riders of the purple sage
filling an abandoned hollywood set
……………..the shell of a church meeting house
……………..left, like most films, a facade
…………………………………………………………………empty inside

i read strip mall signs:
…………….Check Cashing!
…………………………….Massage!
………………………………………….Tattoo!
and question if i dare shop here

but we chat in line like old friends

what can survive here, but
rattlesnakes and reptiles?

home today, a hedge of honeysuckle
under a cottonwood tree
in the morning quiet
voices waft across the camp
…………..a motor starts
…………..a poem spills onto the page
…………..a calico cat slides by
………………………….sunshine warms my face
………………………….wind dries my hair
………………………….the breeze tickles
……………………………………………………flapping laundry
……………………………………………………yapping toy poodle
……………………………………………………twittering wrens
some days, this is enough

at Joshua Tree National Park, California

2 thoughts on “Two poems by Elizabeth Robin

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