Sunday, March 20, 2005

Crow







I arrived just before dawn. Jerry was already there, and what a beautiful sight as I topped a bend in the road and looked into that small dark valley where the creek meets the river: the orange light of a fire glowing on the trunks of trees.

We fished for hours, languishing in the silence that occurs when you become one with a crawfish crankbait -- and the internal roof-brain chatter diminishes down to a small whispered invitation to an elusive black bass.

We heard them all morning: the crows chasing a hungry hawk, screaming their percussive "caw caw" cries against the ravages of a winged predator who either fears the smaller birds -- or only flees because of their irritating language.

"Hey, look at that!" Jerry said as he pointed over my head.

Directly above me sat a large old crow on a barren branch. It cocked its head and stared at me. I didn't think much of it; had it been a hawk or a great horned owl, I might have thanked the forest gods and stared a bit longer with a sense of awe.

*


Later that morning, a man pulled up next to our spot. He got out of his old pickup trunk and nodded to me as I sat at a picnic table near the fire.

"How you doin'?" he asked with a smile.

"Fine. Ya'll alright?

"Oh yeah, it's a great day, man. Are y'all going to camp?"

"No, we're just fishing... having a little picnic. Y'all want this spot?"

"Oh sure," he said, "but we don't want to bother you."

"That's okay, we'll be leaving soon and you can have it. You can have our fire, too."

He smiled as he walked closer. I looked in his eyes and thought I glimpsed some distant Divinity.

He asked me my name. I told him -- and asked his.

"I don't usually tell. Well, I don't tell just anybody. I have a name they gave me, but that's not my name. When they let us go, they gave us new identities, new names. White man names."

This short conversation had started out relatively normal, but quickly becoming obscure and mysterious; the reference to 'white' men meant something, but I wasn't sure what. I could tell by his face that he was a full-blooded American Indian: his caramel colored skin, his coal black hair, high cheekbones and those soft, almost Asian eyes.

Who "They" were and how they "let our people go" --- I could only imagine.

"The new name," he continued, "that's not me. I'm Ogallala... and y'know, I don't hate white men, nah, I respect them, yeah, they're okay... y'know... we're all men, of course, but..." his voice trailed off in clouds of ancient dust -- as if a ghost had reminded him, "Hold your tongue."

I smiled as I pointed toward the river landscape, "Hey, so this was originally yours. We're just borrowing it, but I've taken good care of this place. I clean up the trash, pick up the beer cans left by insensitive pigs..."

It took him a second to catch my reference. Finally, he laughed and offered his hand, looking too deep and directly into my eyes. I glasped his hand, but he manipulated it to grasp his forearm while he grasped mine. He pulled me closer.

My name is "Crow" -- that's my real name, the name I had before they changed it. And when we shake hands like this, it's very serious, it's very special. Now, if I meet you in the future, I must give you the coat off my back if you are cold; I must offer you food if you are hungry; I must give you shelter if you need it."

He held my arm tighter.

"That's what this means."



Friday, March 18, 2005

Bushwhackers




We followed the dim trail,
a path of leaves
that mirrors the creek.

It is just the width of a deer

and not much sunlight.

I teach my grandson
to clear the crush curtains
of thorn,
to push aside the vines,
to whack the bush with his plastic sword.

He knows the moves already.
He has the skills
deep within his quick ballet ---
honed to a sharp shiney edge
from vanquishing dragons
and cutting down Bad Guys who steal from the poor.

Finally,
hot, tired
but now becoming quiet creatures
at a loss for words
just over the hill from Heaven ---

We arrive at The Source:
the silver percussion
of recent rains
and river rocks tumbling toward a tender pool.

The fields have filtered our forage.
The sun has purified the remains.

Clear and cool as crystal legends,
we bend down,
hand cups lifting liquid light
and taste the Water of Life.

We will be here forever.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

IQ Test



"Americans mistake Pleasure for Happiness." -- Peter Whybrow


If Pleasure is a can of beans, Happiness is the feeling that you won't starve.



Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Art of Peeling Fruit





When sunlight
moisture
and seeds combine

with my Touch

just under the window

(the breeze,
a peeping tom,
the blinds,
a pair of eyes)

hold their breaths
as fingers
spin the blade
in a slow tornado of skin and flesh.

We came down out of the trees
just to perform this act.



Sunday, February 13, 2005

Hard Driven





I don't want to disappear
completely --

just float beneath the surface
a breath of atomic odors
stirred by the hum of power.

There is an Off Button,
a pull-down menu that says "Sleep".

Every once in a while,
I'd like the thing to crash.

We all need rest.

Hope to be back for more.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Poets, Life, & Time




It seems
these days
Dylan is quiet.

Both of 'em.

One is old
and apparently doesn't have much to say.

The other is always young --
and speaks forever.

Youth shouts, growls,
grows new language
like erotic crystals in feral gardens
flowering with visions
and marauding manifestos.

Old age mumbles, sighs,
eyes bad now from the constant burning
of those ancient faded fires.

One screams in the street,
fights the current,
swims upstream.

One drifts -- sunburned,
out of tears,
occassionally waving to those on the shore,
never mentioning the waterfall
or the earthquakes that surely await them.

Let them find out on their own.

Youth rages.
Age shrugs, unable to burn or rage.

Thomas went silent into That Good Night.
Zimmerman (gentle) pens his autobiography.

One has a tombstone;

the other, a bestseller.



Thursday, February 10, 2005

Dream #2





L.A.
like Paris
deep underground
with sidewalks swimming
in the washing machine's dark drainage --

everyone is an actor or a waitress
wearing makeup and stilts.

I wear a large overcoat stuffed with knives;
the hand is my father's bayonet.

I lost my wallet.
Where is my brother?
He knows the way out.