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Thanks to Custer
by Ed Bennett

The old Paiute told me
how the west was won:

that Custer died for our sins
with his silly long hair streaming
and he, screaming like
Buffalo Bill’s wayward brother.

Wild Bill Hickock
covered his bets
but not his back,
and Doc Holiday was righteous
because he killed no Indians,
only white men,
and the enemy of an enemy
is a friend.

He dreamed Paiute dreams
as he spoke
of long marches with smallpox blankets,
railroads eviscerating buffalo,
starvation reservations
and fire water tasted before
they would let them into Betty Ford.

He stopped his ramble,
stood at the empty dust arroyo,
hills blasphemed with cell towers,

turned away saying:

he died for your sins,
but not enough.”


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