Even Hiawatha, Even This Poem by Kenzie Allen

guest-edited by Danielle Evans

Let me explain: you look
for creation stories because
you operate on a clean start,
a Big Bang, a Sunday or
Monday, some known
origin. What of our ways,
the wampum bead touching
all other beads, all stories
linked, woven, not a timeline
but a möbius strip. A round Earth,

carried on the back of a giant

What am I trying to say is—
you want a birth of us
and them. A source of savagery,
a culprit for political
correctitude, you want
me dour in the photos
though my hide is no longer
a trophy; you want an endgame, 
for our seventh generation
to be our last. Of course,
we all want a good price
at the roadside
Indian crafts stand.

Keep your women
in white. I’ll bead a continent.

I could stand to pare back
my pronouns. I could avoid an apple
so that this poem will not
stink of apples, even
as I call the orchards home,
as my mother attempts
to ship me Honeycrisps
without their bruising. My arms
could be darker. My words
more like arrows.
I could sweeten my tongue

on empty classics,
this canon full
of wet powder.

Click here for PDF. 


Photo credit: Kenzie Allen

Photo credit: Kenzie Allen

Contributor Notes

Kenzie Allen is a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, and is a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. Her poetry and non-fiction can be found in Sonora Review, The Iowa Review, Day One, Word Riot, Apogee, Drunken BoatMatter: A Journal of Political Poetry and Commentary, and elsewhere, and she is managing editor of the Anthropoid collective. She lives with her mother on the Oneida Reservation in Green Bay, and in Ann Arbor.