Learning about Treaties in School

article 1. From this day forward all war—as common as rain

the United States desires peace,
and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it.

If bad men among the white—
            Levi jeans twilled and clayed with mud, motor oil, Blue Magic, and Camel Wides smokes. Riding black sheep in a lightning storm. Learning how to be the conqueror, learning how to do the punching. We were taught how to drown and never how to breathe. We mimicked gasoline and beer, embracing summer like a windmill.

article 6. In order to insure the civilization of the Indians enter-
ing into this treaty, the necessity of education is admitted

they therefore pledge themselves to compel their children
to attend school
                               for every thirty children between said ages who can be
                                  induced or compelled
               a house shall be provided, and a teacher competent to teach
shall be furnished, who will reside among said Indians, and faithfully

press her hand into my back
all through the lunch hour

posture is important

posture from position, from the meaning “to put in its place”
or from the meaning “to settle”

they put us in our place to settle the body

This is the last time I’ll speak of them because:

If the bad men among the Indians
among them to be given up
to the United States

                                                    by given up, you mean

     all of the above

make of the exam a void
stretch your body at first thunder
                Our limbs dune and mulch into washes, never a thousand rivers. Instead, we knocked the air out of each other, summer after summer, until the dust cleared. The sheep sold. Trees cut down. We each broke our arms in different places, jumped off the lips of ditches into sandbeds. Toying with blood trapped beneath skin, measuring fathoms of biceps, drinking water from a garden hose. Each vein a belt of asteroids or ladybugs giving way to controlled burns: i.e., everything dried up.

article 13. A lesson on permanence.
like water?

sign here to acknowledge that things do in fact end


and make of it possibility

                                                                                              a new morning
                                                                                              a lovely one

More Poems by Jake Skeets