Native Son by Steve Werkmeister

Steve Werkmeister is an English professor at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. He was born and raised in Nebraska and now resides in Olathe, Kansas, with his family. His first poetry collection, The Unauthorized Autobiography: Composed of Fragments, Distortions, Mythologies & Lies (PunksWritePoems Press), was published in fall 2016. He has a literature-focused blog at, and you can find him on Twitter @SteveWerkmyster.



Native Son


When I was a kid,

every old Mexican I knew


claimed their family was

really from Spain,


had secret Jewish blood,

or was part Gypsy,


deftly denying

the obvious aboriginal roots.


It puzzled me, literally.


I understand why no one

wants to say my family


was shit on by the Aztecs,

& then the Spanish,

& then the French,

& then Americans.


No one wants to say

my family got so used to it,


we crossed the border

to get shit on here.


Everyone wants to be


the child Arthur pulling

sword from stone,

the baby in the manger,

the prince, not the pauper.


But I didn’t fit that, either,

being half & half, marginal

even among the marginals.


So here I am, just what

you see: a not-quite Mexican

writing, a not-quite German

writing, a not-quite American

writing, content to handle my


words like berries, to

tend most tenderly


my lines like rows, to spend

millennia crafting poems


just like the land that wrought me.


Anna Dore
Anna Dore
Editor-in-Chief at New Plains Review
Managing Editor and Blog Editor for The New Plains Review.

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