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Wednesday, September 07, 2016


by Laura Lee Washburn

After dinner we have cherry pie.
We are four people from three continents.

The pie: thick with red, butter
crusted: we are sure some old woman made it.

My friends say French and German words
with some ease.  Cherries burst under forks.

We drink tall glasses of iced tea
made with cool water from the kitchen tap.

We have come to live on the plains.
The town festival with a European name offers pie today.

George Washington, cherry pie, pure
dumb luck to be born in this country, and deliberate movements.

What must you be born to
to go out on the land against the oil machine?

You must love the water like life
to tie yourself to the digging machine that doesn’t stop

even with thin court orders.  You must
know the earth is not yours to give while others

train dogs to tear at strangers, loose dogs trained
to tear human skin.

The blood on the dogs’ mouths is human blood.

All over America while folks sit down to dinner,
the blood on the dogs’ mouths is the human blood of water protectors.

Breathe through your nose not your mouth.
[Cry liiiiiiii if you still have the bloody red heart to cry it.]

Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Apple Valley Review, Whale Road Review, Ninth Letter, The Sun, OccuPoetry, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.