Issue No. 10  •  November 2013

When “turtle” is a tank, a bomber
"chickenhawk,” when a Marine’s
a kid who’s got a mouth on him
his country never cared to learn,
a war can be won. Not
eighty years after the Long Walk
tried to crush it to a stutter
it was pronounced a gift
to the military, this language
they tried to scrub out with lye
or beat out with belts
at Indian boarding schools,
its tones rising and falling
to switch the meaning,
too liquid and difficult  
to be broken. When America’s
“our mother” and death’s
spelled “deer, eye, axe,
tooth, horse” (the cryptograms
never written, always spoken);
when our mother says, “Kill
the Indian to save the man,”
but the killers fail, saved
to live to kill again (“kill”
meaning “kill” from code
to code, codes a child could crack
even if his tongue’s in tatters), a war
can be won, but not the one
that matters.