You Tell Me Where We’re Headed

We forget our names. We pay our own
lost money back          per cap,
in cherries, lemons,
                                   liberty bells.

I just need to blow $100 to feel
a little better.
He prepares the sage
in abalone, smudging, his earrings
pewter feathers cresting
dice. We are crabs in the bucket,
Mother tells me. No crab lets another crab
. Oneida stuck in sand, peacemakers
begging grants and circling
the system drain.

All I want in the world is a jingle dress
and a baby with darker skin than mine.

It’s dying          so you lay claim,
a northern jaguar
dragging its desperate, lovely catch
into the trees. If I turn them down, Mother says,
the only way home is in a wooden box
where they nail you in kicking and crying.

Here    my ribcage, here the shape
of my eyes. My mother
has jowls I long for
and dread. Better
to marry a Seminole,
or a Southern
Ute, she says, That’s
where all the money is.

Kenzie Allen is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow in Poetry at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, and a descendant of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. Her work has appeared (or is forthcoming) in Sonora Review, Drunken Boat, The Iowa Review, Word Riot, Apogee, SOFTBLOW, The Puritan, and elsewhere, and she is a managing editor of the Anthropoid collective.