“Today, after a battle, we marched back
to our old positions in a heavy rain. We
passed a drunk man asleep in the ditch.
It was General Grant.”
—from the letter of a Union soldier
Bracelets, jade, rubies, teak, silver chain armlets,
Topaz, smoking sapphire, diamond tortoises of gold,
Columbus glimpsed them behind the green hills before he died;
He died in chains in a dungeon, growling like a dog.
De Soto, misled by the Indians in Kansas, looking
For the Seven Cities of Cibola,
Was buried at night beneath the Mississippi;
Now we are buried at night beneath the world.
Little Crow died with skunk-fur bands on his broken wrists;
A few died like him, dancing
In Texas on high scaffolds, or burned to death;
Hat Sutton died in Great Neck on a rope,
And Black Jack tossed his life down, “Chosen for hell”;
MacKenzie broke up on the Labrador rocks;
They turned back to the sea in ambushes, in dance halls,
With cow skulls in the Snake River snows—