“The Indian Killer Explains Manifest Destiny” by Red Hawk

Red Hawk


Why did you kill the Indians? he is asked.
Becuz they was there.
It had to be done.
They was in the way.
They wouldn’t give it up.
Give what up?
The fight.
Their ways.
They didn’t believe in God.
They had the land.
They wouldn’t give it up.
So we took it.
Becuz we could.
Becuz we believed back then we was good.
Becuz there had to be blood.
You take a man who resists and brings
doubt into what’s agreed and understood,
you nail him to a piece of wood.
That settles things.
It should.
That’s the end of the story;
without blood, no glory.
You don’t add up the honest cost
to them that’s won or them that’s lost.
Them that’s won is left alone
without excuse;
they refuse
to atone.

from Rattle #63, Spring 2019
Tribute to Persona Poems


Red Hawk: “This poem is part of a longer poem called ‘The Indian Killer.’ This 99-year-old man, a famous former U.S. Army sharpshooter who fought in the Indian wars, speaks to an interviewer in his torn-rag-of-a-voice about his life. He has developed a moral code wrought from suffering and horror, and this poem is one of many which demonstrates this hard-won and rough-cut morality and a deep seated native intelligence.”

Rattle Logo