Frederick B. Hudson Can't Breathe


To Back O


This is To Back O

They tax it    They warn us about it

But they took it from our Indian brothers

Strange name    Indian—

Christopher Columbus gave it to them

An Italian who couldn’t navigate his way

Out of the gate to the storm of sweet sea water

From which all of us come.


He left Queen Isabella with a wave

Then churned the waves in boats

To share and share the trinkets    costume jewellery

Trade for a price of land.


With the hidden agenda—

The O word—


Then see the tepee rise in the sunrise

And the clouds broken by mountains

And the plant—tobacco

Was juiced by fruits

And loosened by worms that blessed

The bones of the ancestors

Those called Indians

Who took the plant and dried it

The to back O

The O word again Occupy

The land

The plant was taken into sacred hands

And smoked in peace pipes

Strange word—peace—the Italians on water did not honor this word

But another word—Occupy—

That word would be dried and smoked not just in pipes

But from the barrels of fire sticks—

But the Indians knew of poultice—

The mashing of tobacco with other herbs and liquids

And heated in a cloth and held like embracing an infant

To a burn or even a snakebite to draw out the evil swellings—

But the pipes that were passed were not to heal the anxiety of strangers,

But to seduce the warriors’  breath

And claim their lands and skies and eagles


Now We Shout Heal the Land

A brother Eric Garner chose to sell tobacco—

Loosies they call them 

Rolled up sticks of survival that can help with intestinal disorders

When you chew a few—

He needed this business to survive

His asthma had clogged his lungs—

But when the so called guardians of peace saw him

They did not see a man, a father, a citizen—

But a cancer that needed to be removed

With their sticks and arms as levers to pry his breath—





And we should call the Indians

To look down from their pillowed clouds

And cross their legs in the sunset and let them say:


We shared our tobacco with them

But all they wanted was to occupy—

They let us grow and sell tobacco on our lands—

Untaxed by their rules—

But the rainbow tells us to go back to the waves,

To the bent colors in the sky and call out all the snakes

To bite the intruders and leave them with their swollen

greed in their guts.


Frederick B. Hudson is a  Management and Public Relations Consultant in New York City. He has published in many literary magazines, including the Massachusetts Review and The Black Scholar. He has produced many television and radio programs as well as served as a professor and teacher of management and writing.

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