Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


[My ancestors are empty words]

no pencil

on gelatine paper


no intricate live edge

of the Missouri


no breaking sod

to mine it for wheat


no magnate's gold to

drive our bodies into the fields


no wheat sliding east down

easements that pierce the treaty lands


no ghost of Dorothy

sits up in my body


no craft cocktail:

John Brown's Dugout              14 bucks             


no wet grass curls

above and beneath us


no tractorsfulls of

whiskey empties


no empty words

silting our throats up


no empty bowl

of cut-up peaches


no wombs lit

up with atrazine


no place but

that's just hearsay

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by Kerry Carnahan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 18, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“As a kid I spent eternities at the feet of folk who would often gather without saying much. I keep what talk there was close, like an old uncle might have by his chair an antique taped-up cigar box containing photos, discharge papers, a cowrie— stuff we can’t quite throw out. ‘[My ancestors are empty words]’ is a serial poem and this part began as a shoot sent out while I was working on another part, a prose poem whose first line is ‘What is Kansas?’ It might help a reader to hold that question in mind while reading it.”
Kerry Carnahan

Author


Kerry Carnahan

Kerry Carnahan is an environmentalist pursuing doctoral work in English at the University of Connecticut. She is from Kansas.

Date Published: 2020-10-18

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/my-ancestors-are-empty-words