“Seeds of Racism” by Dave Luker

At dawn, in the distance, a kitchen radio slips 

commodity prices through a screen door 

into a farmyard, echoing off the metallic green 

of a behemoth 18-row combine set to lumber 

out past the dry skeletons of irrigation pivots,

onto the gravelly road which today is blockaded 

by vast hordes in migration, all bright Painted 

Lady butterflies fluttering towards the tangle 

of native prairie acreage where I volunteer

to hand gather Illinois Bundleflowers seeds

shaped like wrinkled bicameral hemispheres,

once mixed into hallucinogenic shaman brews 

by indigenous Pawnee, now spread as a vision

of grassland restoration by a mix of local folks

and just as the kernels remind me of my Chicago 

ancestors’ hard brains shrouded in white hoods,

I feel the strike of a scaly wing on my forehead

bugging me to never forget what I harvest.


Dave Luker is a poet and educator. At numerous universities, he has developed courses and retention programs to ensure the success of students who are First-Generation, low income, and students with disabilities. Previously he founded a hiking company, as well as taught poetry to high school students.

Photo by imso gabriel on Unsplash