They shed Bodie like snakes do skin,
slipped from it restless…tight
to peel themselves to new…
drained themselves downhill
from hell blister, frost bite
snow blind, tapped out veins.
Story goes…before she’d
come to purgatory, some kid
wrote in her diary… Bye God. We’re going to Bodie.
Perhaps dad talk…of easy digging gold. By God! We’re going to Bodie!
became her mom talk…of easy giving women,
whiskey, brawling, thieving, lying
freeze to death first…no place for a girl. By God, we’re going to Bodie?
Mom was mostly right.
I’ve seen ghost towns…
their decay arrested states,
for by god, they appear daily
on the evening news.
she warned me
I’d get bellyache
from tart green apples
that cracked open to my teeth
and made me so mouth happy
I dripped juice…
and, later then
her smirk and narrow eyes
at me doubled over
groaning on a couch
in the living room
how could she…not,
and I fault her…not,
for I, too, think harm joy–
know the gentle sense of it… There! I landed on her space
and sent her back to Go!
Aha…I won. She lost!
or pious contemplation of… There but for the grace of God go I.
or…She had it coming–stupid ass.
or the killer one…I’d never say, She’s such a sweet thing.
far away from me, a lot like Don’t think bluebirds.
I’ll not disown it…never could,
this bite of human nature
that still aches inside of me
Old Hopi lies prostrate upon a deep-red sandstone mesa,
while under him the ground remembers noontime heat.
His rib cage barely lifts with narrow breaths of chanting.
His voice is hushed and reedy. Ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po, ki-tana-po.*
As his words become more halting, raven caws.
He and raven are old friends.
He kneels, and with trembling fingers
sifts two-million-year old sand into a gentle breeze. Ai-na, ki-na-weh, ki-na-weh
He feels sensations of his body are not balanced.
Vistas of escarpment, of river and of mesa
swirl slightly in his sight.
In his shaman’s pouch is honeycomb
wrapped in a beaded bag.
He lifts it toward the sky as if in offering. Chi-li-li-cha, chi-li-li-cha.
Honey is precious in the homeland of the Hopi.
Its dense fragrance hints of amaranth and clover.
Its syrup glows deep gold in bright sunlight.
Blessed, healing sweetness. Don-ka-va-ki, mas-i-ki-va-ki.
There is presence in the wind now.
It has voice and stealthy movement.
There before him a dust devil
swerves and dances with abandon
then dissolves into oblivion. Kive, kive-na-meh.
Lavender mesas turn magenta and dark sapphire.
Old Hopi is not sensitive to day turned into night.
He dances…swerving, turning…
’round the flaming of his campfire,
a silhouette upon the face of cliff side petroglyphs. HOPET.
Republished from December, 2013
* The ancient Hopi words of this chant have lost their English equivalent.
I must hear the silence
between your words
to know how hard they
are for you to say.
Too smooth …I’ll know
you’re riffing jazz
to stay afloat until I say
stop…and we hide
in why and wherefore,
or you say…stop…and
we listen to a replay
of what and we’ll…
until we space our words
like two leaves on a winter tree
reluctant…holding on to stay…
words between the silence.
somewhere near Electra
in the Pleiades…in Taurus
is my star…B6174556 etcetera,
and I’ve its gen-u-ine document
…pipe dream of intent
someone gave me, well-meant
loving…that I lost…somewhere
in my moves state to state
when I wish upon my star
I’m present in sound
of dry wind hurricanes
and distant three tone chimes
and brake scrape like trains…
and I breathe raspberry…rum,
in too flamed…too iced a place
of glare day… pitch night
and yet, that jolt of star