Kemo Sabe by Joe Millar

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Joe Millar
Joe Millar, LKR’s first Writer in Residence
www.josephmillar.org

My brother looks down at his fingers
sorting the herb and mineral caps,
bloodroot and barberry, burdock, zinc,
prescribed by his holistic doctor.
The tumor at the base of his tongue
has shrunk a bit in the last months
though he must still take a painkiller
to swallow his chicken dinner.

We’re in a quiet booth
in Max’s Deli in Redwood City
having just been to see The Lone Ranger,
the masked Texas cowboy of our childhood
riding his alabaster horse
across the landscapes of the southwest,
protector of the weak and scourge
of all evil, with his Indian partner Tonto,
once played in Hollywood by Jay Silverheels
an all-star Mohawk lacrosse player
and today by the white man Johnny Depp,
heart-throb of women and master of disguise,
with the taxidermed corpse of a raven
covering his head
and slashes of white paint
below each eye

and we’re joking about the movie
remembering our childhood
diving like bats through the summer dusk,
firing tin pistols into the air
or else sneaking up on the twilit house
to free all its hopeless prisoners.
Sometimes we wanted to be the Lone Ranger,
masked face of justice and valor
and sometimes we wanted to be Tonto
with his buckskin clothes and his pinto horse
who could track a man over solid rock,
organic, native and whole —

my power-brother in his blue rain-jacket
gambling on his Hanoi doctor
who feeds his patients cobra blood
running herbal IV’s into their veins
and though he still looks way too thin
my brother’s eyes are bright in his face
and I think he embraces his unknown fate
watching him hunch down over his plate
working his way steadily forward
through Max’s Lemon Roast Chicken Special.

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