The Agonist Journal

Cherokee County Tornado Warning

I sense the storm
Five hundred miles away,
Though at my sister’s call,
I do not answer.

To my discredit,
I neglect to pray
Before returning it
To ask the danger.

Her laughter is oblivious—
The alert unheard
And thus, unheeded—
The laughter
Of an unconcerned,
Brave bird.

The tribe, she says,
Has sent her on a chase
Unto the Choctaw,
Who then refer her case
Unto the Muskogee/Creek,
And back to home once more.

No static as we speak.

She tells me plastic
Will destroy the planet.
And have I seen The Hostiles?
Determined nothing drastic
Will drown me on this morning—
Distracting and sarcastic—
And I forget the warning.


Chief Timucua Answers de Soto, 1540

In years past, others cursed among your race
Have brought their poison to our peaceful shores.
They taught me what you are. What’s your employment?
To wander here and there, like vagabonds
From land to land, to rob the poor, betray
Confiding souls, to murder in cold blood
Defenseless ones. No! I desire no peace
With such a people, no companionship.
War! Never-ending war is all I ask.

You boast that you are valiant. This may be,
But no less brave are my true warriors—
And this, too, you shall one day validate,
For I have sworn to keep unsparing conflict
While one white man remains within my borders,
Not only in the fight, though even thus,
We do not fear to meet you, but by ambush,
Surprise at midnight, and by stratagem.

I am a sovereign king in my own land,
And never will I turn into a vassal
Unto another mortal like myself.
Vile and pusillanimous is he
Who will submit unto another’s yoke
When he may nonetheless continue free.
So, as for me, de Soto, and my people—
We choose death, yes! a hundred deaths, before
The dispossession of our liberty,
And subjugation of our native country.

Keep on, betrayers, thieves! From Apalachee
To Acuera, we will treat you as deserved,
And every captive we will draw and quarter,
And hang from the highest tree upon the road.