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poetry The Great Urban Indian Poem

Kim Shuck, current poet laureate of San Francisco, explores the complications-- mixed-up heritages, commercial indifference—of seeing the “Great Urban Indian Poem published “because culture is at its/Root not something that can be sold by chain stores.”

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The Great Urban Indian Poem

By Kim Shuck

Has already been written

Most people missed it the

Fancy dancer had finally finished his

Urban regalia collected his last

Windshield wiper blade for his Oklahoma/Oakland

Back bustle complete with Harley gas cap rosette found

Himself lining up next to a red-headed San Francisco girl her shawl

Edge marked with graffiti from outside of Eli's Mile High Club and

John Lee played the two-step himself

The great urban Indian poem is ongoing but

Most people miss it because there will never be a release party or even a

Book and Deb Iyall, though she may want to will not play the event and

The tribes involved are conflicted because one of the

Poets has no CDIB card and the other is from an

Unrecognized band that had never been more than obscure and she

Refuses to wear the 'official' tribal dress because, well

It's horrible and not even historically relevant and makes her

Look like a cloth muffin and she'd really like the

Cute girl in the shawl competition to look at her and the

Muffin dress won't get that done which is a

Whole other can of politics

The great urban Indian poem will be found

When you least expect it and


Parts are even scrawled onto those fussy

Coffee cup insulators but only coffee from small

Local cafes because culture is at its

Root not something that can be sold by chain stores there will be no

Signs directing people to the poem and it will not be reviewed or

Published in a sanctioned literary organ but

Pay attention because if you hear

Jim Pepper in the background you might be


Kim Shuck is a long protein who is called a poet but seems to write more small biographies than poems these days. Shuck is a citizen of both the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and the United States. Her work is published all over the Western Hemisphere and also in Jordan, Italy and the United Kingdom. Kim teaches at most levels of education, currently in a 2nd grade and a college literature class. Her most recent book is Clouds Running In. She is the current poet laureate of San Francisco.

“The Great Urban Indian Poem” first appeared in the chapbook Sidewalk NDN (2014)