Dean Rader

Did You Walk to Oklahoma?

Poet Dean Rader was raised in western Oklahoma. He earned a BA at Baylor University and an MA and a PhD in comparative literature at SUNY-Binghamton. Rader's book Before the Borderless: The Cy Twombly Cycle (Copper Canyon Press, 2023) is forthcoming. Rader’s debut collection Works & Days (2010)…

You came You came from
You came from your homes Your family Your
rivers creeks came
with you in your blood in your songs
the hawks flew inside the wings of your voice
your voice walked like a deer across the
land your land was a voice walking deep
in your blood’s wings to the place awaiting
its own birth what is born is also made and what
is made is earned built like history
a house mound hall anything we walk into
a state perhaps a state of being a state still
mired in its own making making the dead the dead
a trail a walk of  bones a song of singing skin
that lives through its dying who has not lived with your death?
Who has not lived? You in the dust of your hundred
deaths your thousandsyour deaths are the constitution
of this country this country this state
of the union we say to your deaths that they are ours
they are hours days years only now lived into
a legacy we are learning now to live into your legacy learning
what has a state learned? What has a death driven us to?
Let us pray to your walking Let us walk backward to your prayers
If you are a song let us sing you Let the dead live

  into the state of our making