Ryan Collins

If your knife peels my smiling face off my head
Would I still have the face of an enemy? 
Would anyone else be within earshot besides you
            & an ash tree forest?
What grows & can be made from ash 
Cannot be collected as a trophy, like my nose or ears. 

From this day forward, may you raise a glass of flames     
To toast the day you peeled my face back
            off my enemy head, 
To reveal my skull, the color of ash & my eyes
Which cannot be set on fire, no matter
The proof of your drink or how many toasts you make.  
















This poem was written on May Day, 2011. I have always been fascinated by Geronimo—the Chiricahua warrior, the legends surrounding him (such as the one about [his skull]), and the various conflations of the warrior and the legends throughout American culture. I was also thinking of Daniel Day-Lewis as Bill "the Butcher" Cutting in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. And how the end result of revenge is often damage.