Poem — Vincent O’Sullivan

The Cheyenne Party

I know more people who
want to write a book than
I do those who know what party
they’ll vote for in the next election

which is a bit like saying I’ve
seen in my time more woodpeckers
than trees, more piled fish‑bones
than stretches of silvery river.

Nonsense, my wife says,
who plants miniature forests in tubs
not much bigger than thimbles,
says my son who wears a Davy

Crockett hat, which for the moment,
encloses all that he thinks worth
thinking. These are wondrous
times. I read how the Cheyenne

Indians had what they called
a ‘contrary man’ who said
‘No’ when he meant ‘Yes’,
‘Please’ instead of ‘Thank you’,

who walked away if you called
him to step closer. He squatted
on a special hill between
wilderness and encampment,

he taught you that all
difference is primarily semantics,
that we need a purely black mirror
to see ourselves from behind.

‘Write a song then,’ my wife
says, ‘if that’s how you want to vote.’
There is a shot from the backyard
as my son begins a new hat.

 

Vincent O’Sullivan

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