Jennifer Reeser


Not-A-True-Ballade of Indigenous Actors

Where are the Native-Players now
with no inherent ancestry,
replaced by Beach, McClarnon (wow!),
Tantoo, Wes Studi, Sainte-Marie?
O, where’s Nimoy, who took a role—
with no appreciable degree
of quantum—as a Seminole,
bedecked in beads and feathery?

Astride some roving bison sow,
abducted when she was a wee,
pink Kiowa, to push a plow—
where’s Hepburn’s Rachel Zachary?
Poking at Audie Murphy’s coal,
held hostage at a quilting bee,
or leaning low to birth a foal—
O Rachel/Audrey, where is she?

Or “Matsou,” brave with furrowed brow
upon Ben Cartwright’s property;
indigenous as Curaçao,
Ricardo Montalban—where’s he?
Those chosen at the totem pole,
bit part and Oscar nominee
conspiring at the water hole,
to mournful flutes and timpani?

Chief Joseph, hear and answer me.
Confer with fire and council. How!
Those Joes of authenticity—
where are those Native-Players now?

Jennifer Reeser is the author of five books. Writer and former editor of The Paris Review, X.J. Kennedy, wrote that her first volume “ought to have been a candidate for a Pulitzer.” Her verse novel, The Lalaurie Horror, debuted as an Amazon bestseller in Epic Poetry. Her work has been anthologized by Random House and London’s Everyman’s Library, among many others. Reeser’s poems, non-fiction, and translations have appeared in Poetry, Rattle, The Hudson Review, and elsewhere. Her most-recent collection, Indigenous, is available from Able Muse Press. Her website is