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Saturday, January 04, 2020


by Ron Riekki

Artist Frederic Remington painted “The opening of the fight at Wounded Knee” in 1891. The massacre took place on December 29, 1890.

"There have been more mass shootings than days this year: As of December 25, the 359th day of the year, there have been 406 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country. Twenty-nine of those shootings were mass murders." —Jason Silverstein, CBS News, December 25, 2019

“The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place in 1890, when representatives of the U.S. government executed as many as 300 Native men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, for practicing Ghost Dancing, a spiritual tradition within our culture.” —Allen Salway, Teen Vogue, June 14, 2018

“Arise from their graves” —William Blake, “Ah! Sun-flower”

Ugh! Gun-powder!  weary of EMT
shifts, how it may look like an entrance
wound in front and an exit wound in back,

but it was really two bullets, fired behind
and in front, and bullets, now, with shitty
NRA-backed legislation are made to

ricochet around in the chest once they
enter, going from organ to organ, intro-
ducing themselves with a bloodbath,

destroying colons and lungs and spleens,
the way that colonizers smallpoxed
and large-poxed and sent poxes upon

thee—the Pawnee, the Cherokee, the
Kansa?  Have you never heard of the
Kansa?  Because extinction is erasing—

worse than erasing, de-racing, destroy-
ing the -ing of a people: their breathing,
talking, writing, hearts beating, cultures

living.  And over an Xmas dinner,
we get on guns, and I say that I wish
I could take all the gun-owners and

put them on an ambulance with me,
allow them to see what bullets do,
see bullets in merry-go-rounds and

bullets in dollhouses and bullets in
Etch A Sketches where you shake
the world and nothing changes.

Ron Riekki's most recent book is Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press, 2019).