Daily Archives: April 18, 2020

One More White Riot

All I have to do is look at pictures of them
standing with wide mouths and flags and guns
while cameras take it all in

and I can smell them as clearly as if
I’d found them playing greasy cards in a sod house
on the old prairie; a little body stench, a little dirt;

on their clothing the stink of blood — maybe
pig, maybe chicken, maybe human; over all a fetid reek
of flesh burning upwind of here in a village overrun

with pioneer spirit. All I have to do is see their faces
and there is at once no need to learn their names:
all of them no doubt answer to some variant 

of Custer, Columbus, Jefferson Davis,
or Nathan Bedford Forrest; and damn glad of it, too,
even if they can’t tell you much

of who those people were. I can
smell them from here through the screen,

through all my multi-purpose masks,

through the swelling odor of my own anger
and fear. They smell like the land I live on
without living in it, like an age old paleface shivaree.

It’s time to hide my face, I think,
to shield my breathing from them, yes;
but also to give myself a certain license 

to move toward them
if they dare to claim
their right to deal us out.