The years divided me
into a tent of dirty settlers
and the hymns they left folded over
in lieu of calling cards.

I considered the rituals,
the festivals they replaced
by making their own louder.
I paced the cities they built

beneath the undead stars,
each one a campfire
hours made more important
than the stories told around it.

The great advantage of the plains
has always been the ability
to see one’s enemies
in the distant weather.

It makes the fighting feel artistic,
the battlefield an easel
you might stand in front of
as dawn paints quiet men.

What you’ve been falls away from you
as you stand there
somewhere between your life
and the right words

to describe what happened
or even imagine it,
violence like a kind of root
beneath the corn.

Tendrils curl into parched monograms
beneath my spurs
where I stand participating
in the idea of a vista,

this imaginary architecture
that keeps shooting
its own private Indians
above the historical markers.

Christopher DeWeese