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The Feed

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Several of my cousins lean up against the house, taking long drags
from the pack of Marlboros we share. We have always been this way
—addicted and generous. A pow wow tape plays from inside the open
garage where two old uncles are thinking to themselves in the safety
of its shadows. Our aunties are in the kitchen, preparing the boiled meat
and chokecherry soup and laughing about old jokes they still hang onto
because these things are a matter of survival. Outside, we ask about
who was driving around with who last night, where so-and-so got beat
up, whose girlfriend left him for someone else. (But she’ll go back to
him, we all think to ourselves.) Aunties carry the full pots and pans to the
picnic table, an uncle prays over our food in Assiniboine. We all want to
forget that we don’t understand this language, we spend lots of time
trying to forget in different ways. No one notices that the wild turnips
are still simmering in a pot on the stove.

M. L. Smoker, “The Feed” from Another Attempt at Rescue. Copyright © 2005 by M. L. Smoker. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press.
Source: Another Attempt at Rescue (Hanging Loose Press, 2005)
The Feed

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  • A member of the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes, poet M.L. Smoker earned a BA at Pepperdine University and an MFA at the University of Montana, where she received the Richard Hugo Memorial Scholarship. Smoker also studied at UCLA, where she received the Arianna and Hannah Yellow Thunder Scholarship, and the University of Colorado, where she was a Battrick Fellow.
    Influenced by John Steinbeck, James Welch, and Philip Levine, Smoker composes free verse poems that focus on personal struggle and identity and engage Native American history, language, and culture. As Smoker noted in a From the Fishouse audio recording, “[B]eing a poet allows me to interact and observe and be a witness to so many things that go on in the world around us, large things that go on in our community but also things that happen in our day-to-day lives, and I’m very honored to have the chance and...

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