Handshake Histories

Jeff Hoffman

 
          Summer, 1983
They're locked together outside a gift shop outside
the Badlands: a statue Indian shaking hands
with a statue cowboy. The Indian's head feathers
hang down, subdued; the cowboy's hat tilts up at the front—
invitation, forgiveness. His six-shooter, holstered, juts out
from the wood, and I trace it, guiding two fingers
along a well-worn stream that ends at the Indian's leather
vest tassels: When I touch them they should be soft
but are not. My family floats somewhere apart from me;
I do not think of my family. The Indian
creeps into the mist of a forest, lifts his hatchet
toward a rustle in the distance. The cowboy kicks
the ribs of his horse, wrecks onward through a blizzard
of dust. And far away the speck of Rushmore's faces
scoured—by sun, by wind—one layer more lean.
 
From Journal of American Foreign Policy, published by New Issues Press. Copyright 2011 by Jeff Hoffman. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Further Reading

Poems about America
1492
by Emma Lazarus
A House Divided
by Kyle Dargan
Abraham Lincoln
by Abraham Lincoln
América
by Richard Blanco
America
by Claude McKay
America
by Walt Whitman
America
by Robert Creeley
America
by Herman Melville
America [Try saying wren]
by Joseph Lease
Black Laws
by Roger Reeves
C'est La Guerre
by Danniel Schoonebeek
Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab Nye
I am the People, the Mob
by Carl Sandburg
Imagine
by Kamilah Aisha Moon
Last Century
by Wyatt Prunty
Like Any Good American
by Brynn Saito
Passing Through Albuquerque
by John Balaban
Psalm
by Vanessa Place
The Blank of America
by Terese Svoboda
The House-top
by Herman Melville