Potlatch

By Jeanine Stevens

~after the Kwakiutl

 

Begin by giving away $10 packs of cigarettes,

copper chafing dishes, doilies and anamacasters,

Schaeffer ink pens, milk pitchers, travel brochures,

potato chips and cracklings.

 

Have everyone give away manual can openers,

polka dot bow ties, menus for the Brown Derby,

fitted bed sheets, etched goblets, dusty packs

of Walnettos, jars of Nescafe and slot machines.

 

Pretend to be a queen. Have the men pretend

to be ornaments and walking sticks. Have the

women pretend to be chefs and refrigerator magnets.

 

Talk Siberian or another language. Put a limbo pole

at the front door so people have to dance low to enter.

Hang cans of Chef-boy-ardee spaghetti and a

ball cap collection on the pole. Conduct a raffle.

Add shoe horns and pickle forks— make a small racket.

 

Give away foil balls from cream cheese wrappers.

Give everyone a new name from the bird world.

Go and look again: maybe Snap-On-tools, straight-

edged razors, psychedelic bed rolls, “Happy Days”

lunch box and skunk traps? Have an auction.

___

Jeanine Stevens is the author of Sailing on Milkweed released by Cherry Grove Collections. Her second poetry book, Limberlost, is forthcoming from Future Cycle Press. Her most recent chapbook, Needle in the Sea, was published by Tiger’s Eye Press. Winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, the Ekphrasis Prize and the Stockton Arts Commission Award. Poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Stoneboat, Arsenic Lobster, Rosebud, Pearl, Evansville Review, Addana and the Connecticut River Review.


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