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Ryan Clark

Pioneer Families Unite

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Who took the wedding photo. End to end there are seven,
and we name the seventh viewer. Is watching even shown

in the founding of family wired together as a hometown—
not for the wedding but the child dreading the present

tone of land, who draws a shrub that was brought up
beside her. Is it the waiting to shrug off a scene,

hanging like a foot to the ground, that survived the cut
of the frame, that appears as the blur losing focus.

Miss but not Mrs.

for the territorial-era teachers of Old Greer County, 1890-1907

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By status female, a teacher should leave the marriage stuff foreign.

A job teaching is a veil forever unparted, a respectable lock

on the woman financially independent. She is allowed

to position her hand successful at the chalk under a signed contract.

Again the year is a pulsating rule saying this is for your honor.

Miss may I have a life with a few dollars.

Miss march of good moral character.

Tethered, a teacher is out of contact, leases a regulated social life:

don’t drink, dance, play cards.

She carried the ring of her term.

Jester Community

for Jester, Oklahoma

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D.C. Jester found the prairie
and took his name into a cave
of flaking gypsum. This hole
soothes the past made shadow,
wherein all noise is framed
in the vantage of our movement away.
Here a hundred head of cattle are
living conductors stuck to roots
we reach for. Lost is a store
Jester pried out of the form
he fenced off as his own sound;
lost too is the freight wagon
heaving assured his first wheat crop
to Quanah. A freight is a scene of
launch and return, a charge
of metamorphosis issued to what
Jester reserved of the ground.
Believe in this drive back and forth
forever, until a road is formed
outside of where we are used to,
and each wagon joins the rot of our person
buried in the Jester cemetery.
Late: the father, with the son nearby.
Watch Fred Jester at the cave
photo with the joke snake,
the woman smiling. This is a quality
we lose: a filled place
swelling up, ringing sound.

East Duke and West Duke Buried the Hatchet

for Duke, Oklahoma

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Dukes fixed, blushed in the made fire rigidly lined.
The story is that stretch of space shed, that new town

stutter between East Duke, circa 1910, and West
Duke, circa 1910, all touching what a gap is.

Stabilize us when we see it, when we see all of it
untied and spinning out, dukes whiffing acrid

letters of position five feet in the air. A church sets off
for the center, is tucked into the mess of our

ongoing speculation about the town the railroad split—
this shoving of tin into a wound drawn four hundred yards

apart, thick flies in rusted teeth of railway. Later,
the mistakes are less located, left in the waste

of dramatic ceremony as a celebration of history,
as a fully buried hatchet tastefully dipped in red paint.

Duke remarried here, in the wound, in the clay shoved
free of removal—a lung relocated, having collapsed

toward the sunrise, toward the pool hall, cold drinks,
a straight Duke sign on the side of the highway.

Colonel A. S. Mangum

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Collect as pay the land that is given your face as a field,

your sound as a way of naming the rock that is surveyed.

To plot a town is a pin upon the wave to say hold,

to say become Mangum,

which is a version of you written in an atlas.

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