What Shivers Since the Wheel Forgave Us

Lake Thunderbird in Oklahoma

Our stuck tongues screamed louder 
In Alabama, words hung in a rhythm 

Reservation hands could basket 
Tied back rocks rose, picked 

Tarnished cigarettes unsupervised 
Between tucked tobacco choruses 

The stick figure beautifully contorted 
Across drum and caught motioning 

Toward a post authentic 
Grinning the undressed words 

To out-sparked historians 
Trading them the dance we packed 

For breakfast, hands out-fished
Bent past our crane feathers 

And Oklahoma over there imagined
Stretched and carved and reported 

Magic from god dollars 
Thought + thought + thought 

No promised sounds abundant
Bays silent, the rinsed spirit singing 


Photo: Gabriel Padilha

Chip Livingston is the author of the novel Owls Don’t Have to Mean Death (Lethe, 2017); a story and essay collection, Naming Ceremony; and two poetry volumes, Crow-Blue, Crow-Black and Museum of False Starts. Chip teaches in the MFA programs at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Regis University. 

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