When I Am Drunk I Am an Indian by Will Malkus

I am a warrior.

And I am poisoned

Just like all great warriors.

My stomach is full of the tears

That were shed

Or weren’t shed

On a long walk

My blood is thick with ink

Or names, or both

But because there are no names in my blood

I am full of poison

My ears are ringing with bloody, ululating pride

And when I slam my feet into the ground

They scream at me

To run faster


I am a warrior.


I am a warrior.

I can do no wrong

I will never bow my head

I will never cut my hair

As long as I am poisoned

Or alive

I will wear a lopsided smile

As my warpaint

And when I am poisoned

I will never stop fighting


I am a warrior.

I am covered in scars

My head is full of the white man’s bullets

And they know everything

They teach me how to fill my belly

With unshed tears

But early in the morning

Before battle, before we walk forever

And forget war

I am whole

And there is no ink in my blood

And there is no poison in my blood

But I am only a great warrior.

When I am poisoned


1 Comment

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One response to “When I Am Drunk I Am an Indian by Will Malkus

  1. kgavin2

    Colophon Meeting:

    Going into this poem, we expected a little more “Indian” and less stereo-type. Based off what you already have, this could easily just be “warrior.” If you decide to keep the Indian aspect, can you develop this further?

    The poison image was strong, but should be used fewer times. Eventually, it lost its potency as an image.

    We were confused by the last stanza. You suddenly bring in another party: “Before ‘we’ walk forever” Is this we another person or a part of yourself? We also weren’t sure what the tone was supposed to be at the end.

    Use of punctuation is confusing – consistent some places, while inconsistent in others. There’s a stumbling quality to the lines that provides a sense of realism to the drunkenness; it’s believable. Was this the intention of the punctuation?

    We like the images of “my blood is thick with ink,” and “I will wear a lopsided smile as my war paint.”

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