From Injun



he played injun in gods country

where boys proved themselves clean


dumb beasts who could cut fire

out of the whitest sand


he played english across the trail

where girls turned plum wild


garlic and strained words

through the window of night


he spoke through numb lips and

breathed frontier




he heard snatches of comment

going up from the river bank


all them injuns is people first

and besides for this buckskin


why we even shoot at them

and seems like a sign of warm


dead as a horse friendship

and time to pedal their eyes


to lean out and say the truth

all you injuns is just white keys




some fearful heap

some crooked swell


bent towards him

and produced a pair


of nickel-plated pullers

a bull winder of


dirty tenderness

that stiffened into


that low-brow ice

that dead injun game

Bibliographical info

Jordan Abel, “From Injun,” from Injun. Copyright © 2016 by Jordan Abel Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: Injun (Talonbooks, 2016)

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