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They flung his head onto his rust-kissed beater truck
like a drummer’s mallet smacks leather. Since they smelled
a sticky smell. Since they thought it was pot. Since
they re-named all the sacred plants danger, weed, nuisance.

My mother tells me this the day after Philando Castile
is killed. She had kept this song a secret because she knows
how I make a brother out of anger, conspire against the world
until I convince myself that I am the enemy, overgrown
with wild, furious earth.

But now I dream of my uncle fanning smoke into the fading headlights
like fog across the moon’s eye, beading the tire’s grip
with spirit and prayer, blessing the ground
which allowed his ride to run.
He would die in that truck years later. He had always known it would be like that.
Curious to think how a silent, sage-smitten preparation for death
prompts such violence.

Sometimes I dream that a nuisance is when a people
or a plant grow too brilliant for all those cultivated tastes,
too loud, too-firm roots loving the dirt rising up along the road.

Halee Kirkwood is a recent graduate of Northland College and will be soon attending Hamline University’s MFA program. Kirkwood also served as an editor for Aqueous Magazine, a Lake Superior region Literary & Performing Arts magazine. You can often find Kirkwood haunting the Twin Cities Metro Transit, staring out of windows and daydreaming about what secrets the roadside plants keep.
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