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Simon Ortiz
Acoma Pueblo
b. 1941

"Grants to Gallup,
New Mexico"


Grants, Okie town
Texans from the oilfields
come to dig uranium
for Phillips Petroleum.
Milan, mobile home town.

semis busting gut, gears snarling.
Sawmill this side of Prewitt.

        West for California.

Thoreau, gas station and bar.
Navajos leaning on the walls.

West. pass on by,
see you on the way back.

Top of The World,
Real Indian Village,
reptiles, moccasins, postcards 5
restrooms, free water.
Continental Divide.
North Chavez.
Iyanbito, a Shell Oil Co. Refinery.

West, you see
Red Gods emerging from the cliffs
several miles north
of the Santa Fe railroad.
Keep going.

Wingate Army Depot, ammo storage
on the hills, rows and rows
of bunkers, freight cars pulling away
loaded for war, for Vietcong.

West. A Cadillac
with a fat white cat
and a blonde teenybopper.

Church Rock turnoff
where an Indian man waits.
We stop for him and he runs to us.
Where are you going?

West. California is too far.
Once, I been to California.
Got lost in L.A., got laid
in Fresno, got jailed in Oakland,
got fired in Barstow,
and came home.

Gallup, Indian Capital of the World,
shit geesus, the heat is impossible,
the cops wear riot helmets,
357 magnums and smirks, you better
not be Indian. Bail's low though.
Indian Ceremonial August 7-10,
the traders bring their cashboxes,
the bars are standing room only
and have bouncers who are mean,
wear white hats and are white.

West, sometimes I feel like
going on.
West into the sun at evening.

© Simon Ortiz
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