Sunday, February 22, 2009

La Acequia



How do I call the rain?
How do I tell the sky
in a way it will hear -
of the need for water,
for mercy.

The dry river-bed,
cracked and fissured,
aches
in its longing;
stream-beds lie empty;
las acequias - without
life-blood,
filled instead, with brittle memories
of what once was
lush and green.

There are milpas waiting;
verdant fields wanting
to rise
above the withered husks
again.

I place the seed
into hardened earth
with a prayer
and a song -
and a dream
of the rain's
return.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mickey Goes to Pow Wow

This one takes me back to a pow wow in St. Ignace, Michigan where I first heard it; a sunny, warm September day a dozen years ago; standing next to the drum under the cedar arbor; surrounded by the blue waters of the Straits of Mackinaw - Ojibwa country. If you've never been to a pow wow, get yerself there. If you've never stood next to the drum and felt it pound its rhythm into your body - go stand next to it. If you've never seen an Indian child dance, you've missed a chance to smile deep.

Go. Eat good food. See good sights. Feel good music. Dance. Everyone is welcome. Step into another world; a world of tradition that is still strong today. You'll be glad you did. In fact, how did you ever get to be this old and never have gone to a pow wow? Go! Get yerself there. Take the kids. Take Grandma and Grandpa. There's room and respect for everyone. Have fun -- tell 'em Indigenous Mickey sent ya. (listen closely - One of the Best Cultural Appropriations in reverse)



for more info on pow wows: www.powwows.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Late Winter Ice-break

Last week was the cross-quarter - the halfway through winter moment; the light increasing; the snow and ice melting. Ice flows breaking apart carrying ice fishermen into Lake Erie, reminding them of their very small stature. Spring surges beneath the surface. The pressure pushing, breaking apart the old, the frozen; breaking free.

Y'all hung in there with me through this last three part poem: the dictionary. It's a hard poem about hard work among other things. It's not comfortable. The pressure builds.

And then the sap rises. The ice cracks. The waters get troubled. And the release begins.

Here's a little something to soothe the way:
Eva Cassidy - Wade In the Water
Striped icebergs of Antarctica

Saturday, February 7, 2009

the dictionary: malignant; malevolent

malignant - showing great malevolence; actively evil in nature

malevolent - having or exhibiting ill will
from the latin
malus - bad
and volens - to will or intend.

an evil force outside of myself
evil invaders who break into my home
tie me up
make me helpless
as I watch them rape my wife and kill her
slit the throats of my children
steal my belongings
torture me
in my powerlessness
to this great ill will
that leaves me to burn
in the rubble
of what once was my home
until all that remains
is
smoldering
ash.

i do not know this malevolent force
that wishes my undoing
it is an inheritance from
the rapists murderers and pillagers.
they want me to believe.
they need me to believe.

instead i have a wolf
same as francis' wolf of gubbio.

when the villagers of gubbio cried out for help
the holy man
came to the rescue
but instead of driving the wolf away
that had murdered and eaten children
and hunters alike
that had struck fear into all the villagers -
he went into the forest to talk to the wolf
and the villagers cried out
"oh no! don't do that! he'll kill you!"
but francis walked into the dark woods
unarmed except for invisible protection
and when he found the dangerous matted stinking wolf
he reached out his hand and said
"bless you brother wolf"
and having only been cursed before and never been blessed
and having never been called "brother" before
the wolf stopped to listen
and francis continued
in intimate conversation.

from the darkened woods they emerged together
walking toward the city gate
and the villagers screamed to kill the wolf
to hang him as was the custom
but francis said, "no."

"good people of gubbio" he addressed them
"this is your wolf."
"what? this isn't our wolf! he's not ours! he needs to be killed!" they protested.
francis countered "he is your wolf - and he has been very hungry
he has agreed to stop killing you to fill his hunger
but you must agree to feed him
and keep him from starvation
this is your wolf people of gubbio
and you must feed him."

from that day on
the skinny hungry wolf
would travel each morning from house to house
looking for scraps left by the door
by the woman of the house.

and there was no more killing.

i live with a wolf.
he's not a malevolent force
that wishes me evil.
he hungers for my attention
i do not know why
but every day he shows up
at my door
hungry
wanting
and i choose to invite him in
for something to eat
a cup of coffee
or green tea
and conversation
and listening
about life as a wolf
and being
so
misunderstood.


the dictionary: cancer (the crab)

Since the shovel is out, and since I'm riding a steroid rocket right now (prescribed), and I have more energy in my mind than I've had in some time, well instead of taking this 3-parter slowly, I'm going to plow ahead, shovel firmly in hand.








i can no longer call you cancer
after finding out your name is greek for the crab
with its many legs
creepy-crawling
here and there
under this rock
or shoal.
i shall call you by your formal name -
lymphoma
or your fully baptized name -
follicular non-hodgkins lymphoma
or your nickname -
my annoying roommate mr L
but I will not have creepy crawlies
trying to creepy-crawl their way
through my waters.

cancer goodbye.

i shall see you written as c-answer when i hear your name
and think of you pointing to
an answer
within -
the one I may never find.

my own holy grail.

Friday, February 6, 2009

the dictionary: on hate



very smart book that dictionary
with all its words and meanings and definitions
with its roots and etymology
always looking for the center of a thing
a feeling
an idea -
the defining essence in as few words as possible.
very smart book that dictionary
one of my favorite guiding scriptures
that contains all that is holy and sacred and blessed
without excluding the unholy and mundane and cursed.

the word holy and whole and heal
all from the same root -
and if one is the same as the other
or cousins at least
then the holy is the wholly
from the sacred to the profane.

i like that all-inclusive dictionary
and wonder what kind of a guy that webster was.

i look up "hate" as in "I hate cancer"
and learn it comes from the greek via the german word
"kad"
the old word for hatred
and
sorrow.
hatred and sorrow
living side by side
children of the same parent word - kad
and this is one of the deepest and most profound things
that i've heard in a long, long time.
because underneath any hate I have
i also have great sorrow
or "kad".
i have great kad -
hate and sorrow.

and the greatest is the sorrow.