VERSE / Mike Davis : A R I Z O N A

Arizona’s Sheriff Joe. Image from The News Junkie.



Cochise, son of the oak,
The desert cries for justice

(We must scalp Sheriff Joe)

Lt. Bascom hung your brother and nephews
Fed their eyes to the ravens
And their feet to the coyotes

Cochise of the lance
Call your blood, Mangus Colorado,
Tall as a mountain and unyielding

Johnson massacred 400 Apache women and children
So Mangus, in his grief,
made the white moon scream

Cochise, you craved peace,
But the invaders murdered your children
for gold, copper and real estate

(We must scalp Sheriff Joe)


Arizona is one of God’s great poems
But the pale mad ants
Want only to spill water, asphalt, and hate

Cochise, brother to the Black man,
You defeated the slave owners’ invasion at Dragoon Mountain
But Lincoln sent no congratulations

Instead from Washington came soldiers,
Railroads, pox, and slander
Dams, jails, and ultimately Goldwater

Cochise, Last Poet of free people,
You asked these questions:
“Why do the Apache carry their lives on their fingernails?
Why is it that the Apaches wait to die?”

“Why shut me up on a reservation?
We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully.
But let us go around free as Americans do.
Let us go wherever we please.”


The Secretary of War replied:

“My dear Cochise,
your aboriginal freedom is a disease
that we will cure with gallows,
howitzers, and cheap whiskey

We’re coming to build fences,
make borders, dig holes
Put men’s sweat to work under the earth
Feeding bankers in distant cities

Your people are vagabonds
who drift like clouds in the sky
But the future is already written
In the Prospectus of the Arizona Copper Corporation

If you complain about the reservation,
your starving cattle and sick children
We’ll exile you to a land without mountains
Where, like the Jews, you’ll weep for centuries.”


Great-great grandfather,

They say it has been forever
But your people know it’s only been a day
Since you came down from the Dragoon Mountains

Still, the sky has exploded
And the locusts have eaten our dreams

Syndicates took the ore
And then sold the dirt
To shriveled people craving heat

Millions of lights blind the valleys
The Land can no longer see
Or remember its name

The whites have a new God
Stranger than the last
Who goes by the name
‘No Trespass’

He wears guns to school
And wants to deport
all the children to Mexico

He’s chiseled off the First Commandment
from the church doors
And replaced it with the Second Amendment



Robespierre of the saguaro

Your pony is ready,
Painted for war,

The young girls have finished
Your medicine shirt

Here’s your father’s talisman
Of lightning-struck oak


The people are chanting
And we must go

To take the scalp of Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Mike Davis / The Rag Blog
February 3, 2011

[Mike Davis is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. An urban theorist and a social activist, Davis is the author of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles.]

The Rag Blog

This entry was posted in Rag Bloggers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to VERSE / Mike Davis : A R I Z O N A

  1. T.G. Fisher says:

    Don’t give up your day job.

  2. Scam Ransom says:

    Beautiful…my spirits weeps from the pity of my red blood, and from the hate created by the European of a disease I carry in my DNA…thank you!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’d say pretty cool. Creates feelings and rolls, not too sad, considering the landscape being painted.

  4. That IS his day-job. Makes at least as much as Joe Arpaio and doesn’t have to get a gang of uniformed thugs to help him force men to wear pink panties in order to validate himself the way Sheriff Joe does.
    Sheriff Joe should learn how to use a search engine, find a bar where people will help him work out his unresolved issues of men and pink underwear.

    Actually, too, it’s more than a poem.
    It’s calling him back from the dreamtime. And Mangas Colorado as well.
    He used their Apache names.

    Sheriff Joe already has souls of his victims haunting him. Maybe Cochise and Red Sleeves will help keep him from adding more victims.

    Sheriff Joe should also hope and pray that Hell actually exists, because it would be a lot more tolerable for him in eternal flames than wandering the dream-time forever.
    I’m not sure that it came across, how much I despise the hateful racist son of a crack whore and all he stands for.

    But I believe I did make a good start on it.
    BTW, that earlier crack about the poet making more than Joe’s SALARY, well, that’s not counting the graft available to Sheriff Joe. And no, I don’t believe for a moment that he would be above taking that money.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I greatly enjoyed this poem, or as Brother Jonah notes, this invocation. It is a righteous historical accounting. It is written in a sensitivity and particularity of language that understands the Earth, cherishes life, and honors what the native intuitively knows. It is a transmission to those who can and will hear it. – P.L.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for passionate poetry. It packs a punch. Sending loving thoughts to Riverside.


  7. Mariann Wizard says:

    Wolf whistles, drum crescendo, let 10,000 campfires blossom!

  8. I wish we had more sheiff joe’s across the land. We need people who respect the law, to enforce the law.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We could also need people who can spell, who capitalize when appropriate, and who respect the rules of English grammar.

  10. Anonymous says:

    To “Extremist to the DHS”;
    So, we need more “Sheriff Joe’s… people who respect the law, to enforce the law..”
    What about the Apache Law that “White Eyes” violated? What about the murder of Apache women and children? What about the land stolen from the Apache?? What about the white man’s rape of the land of Arizona?
    To paraphrase Keith Oberman.. You Sir, Are an Idiot!
    (a white man whose ancestors arrived in this “new world” circa 1640’s)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *