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wall, red lodge, MAYou know you’re on the reservation

once you become aware of a kind of

carelessness in the landscape.

Untended, uncultivated prairie

butts up against steadily more

ramshackle properties, spread

unsociably apart, their yards

cluttered with the modern

sculpture of broken down cars.


An outlet selling ‘genuine’

handcrafted items boasts

old arrowheads galore

right nextdoor to the liquor store.

Neon signs incongruous

in bright daylight glare –

the giant casino,

a landed-from-space

quality to its newness

and its phony promises

of get-rich-quickness.


Beside the husks of automobiles

stripped bare of useful purpose,

it’s heralding a new gold rush

of staggering proportions,

its forked tongue an

aspartame sweetness

poured in the ear,

deceiving the senses

of all who draw near.


Tangled in the chaparral

of a complex new religion,

dry arroyo beds, the green

leached out of the land.

Everyone’s driving through here

nothing’s thriving here.

Everything’s detached,

tossed like tumbleweed

headlong down abandoned

strips of ghost town streets.


Dogs in the beds of

pickups parked outside bars

that turn daylight to darkness,

a night without stars.

A place to lose yourself,

an interior dim with

anonymity and solace

where no one will know you

or recognise your scars.

 Photo by Belinda.