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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 7, 2016.
About this Poem 

“‘Irony’ is one of six poems I’ve written on grasses in the last few years. My dad’s family is from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and my mom’s family is from northern Idaho, yet I grew up in the Southwest. When I travel north, it’s the grasses that speak warmly in welcome and they’re what I miss most when I leave. I relish the fragrance—fresh and redolent, rich and musky at once...and the sight of breezes across the surface, a graceful oceanic sway. When I write, I write to whom or what I love the most. But it’s in absence, most especially, I find poems.”
—Layli Long Soldier

Irony

I wake to
red sand I
sleep here
coral brick
hooghaan I
walk thin
rabbit brush
trails side-
step early
autumn
tarantulas 
pick desert
white flowers
on full days I
inhale fe-
male rain
I stop wheels
slow sheep
bounce drop
sheep shit
across 
highways
potholed
me I grass
nothing
here I meta-
grass I sleep-
walk grasses
open eyes to
blue corn sky
to cook up
stews chunks
half-chewed thru
I am this
salivating
mouth without
hands with-
out arms 
bent down
shameless
face to plate to
some origin(al)
hunger aware
that I’m alone
and I alone am
the one -> pushing
the head
to eat

Copyright © 2016 by Layli Long Soldier. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 7, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Layli Long Soldier. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 7, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier is the author of WHEREAS (Graywolf Press, 2017).

by this poet

poem

my first try I made a hit it dropped from morning gray the smallest shadow both wings slipped inward mid-flight the man barked Now I shot again and again a third time with each arrow through the target I thought was it luck or was it skill luck or skill as the last one fell

its awkward shape made me

poem

Inside the wheels of wrists and hands, a white shore of book and shell.
I kneel in the hairline light of kitchen and home
where I remember the curt shuttle of eyes down, eyes up—
where I asked, are you looking at how I’ve become two?

poem

But
is the small way to begin.

But I could not.

As I am limited to few
words at command, such as wanblí.   This
was how I wanted to begin, with the little
I know.

But could not.