this much is true

true is the cardboard box   true too
     the hunger &
     the pigeon, now

But the fellah, the unemployed and the starving do not lay claim to truth. They do not say they represent the truth because they are the truth in their very being.
– Frantz Fanon, from “The Wretched of the Earth”

Sweet Sally took a cardboard box,
And in went pigeon poor.
Whom she had starved to death but not,
For lack of love, be sure.
– Gwendolyn Brooks, from “the ballad of the light-eyed little girl”

The Task
Some dust to be sure, some nails I will bring, we shall nail the dust to wind –

Can you will your shadow into being stone
And will it rain when the stone turns color?

I’ll think up some fire, you bring your clay, and pray earth to give us song –


Blue as the tip of a flame that
teaches each morning how to be born –
Red as the warmth of a love that knows only
the murmur as friend and the roar as god –
Violet as the eye of a wolf looking out for kin
not knowing whether the time is right –

Bringing the sun back

To the sun I say my greetings as I did the day before
to the sun’s

memory   can I recall which sun I bore witness to?
whose warmth

is like my own, cradled in the same lava that burns
every sun

which looks like my own   can I bring that sun to you?

I am preparing myself so that I might remember the teachings of my grandfathers. I would like to give these teachings to you. I believe that, together, we can begin the journey back to find what many of our people left by the trail. This will be a journey to rediscover a way of life that is centered on the respect for all living things. It will be a journey to find the center of ourselves so that we can know the peace that comes from living in harmony with powers of the Universe. I do not believe in isolating myself in the memories of the past. I do believe that with the teachings of yesterday we can better prepare ourselves for the uncertainties of tomorrow.

– Edward Benton-Banai: “The Mishomis Book: the voice of the Ojibway”

iii poemses

as the timidity of morning relents, the
    whorl of ashless stars
    climbs up into the gut

of heaven to teach it love – relents
    the crawl of moon as
    it detaches from each

world   the peripheries of relent give
    mark give stone give
    the vapid liquor of gray –

the thread of beginnings is
    taught the how of
    howl & the hum of

humans – lost in the sunsome
    day, the riverbed
    listens   it trades

secrets – what morning knows
    it secretes while the
    thrum of nettles bakes –

the fulsomeness of each torn leaf
    voids the argument of
    dark   touch the

thorn of thunder & it will silence
    your need   reach into
    the budless sun where

creatures of light scatter into
    a priestly muttering
    of the whoness of wonder –

The crushed seed

The many eyes of a room in tears
    has dust for vision
    had dust for vision
    the past will rest & it will die
(I gave three words to fire; one would’ve been fine)

The many eyes of the world in arms
    can it not bear?
    will it not bear?
    the house is one & it will die
(The crushed seed is very much a nut)

The many eyes of a single eye
    the river in sight
    the river is sight
    the rain is wood & it will die
(Visit sky often, perhaps even more often)

The green is full of this hour

The green is full of this hour  of
    need   trust in the thrust of
    giving – at most two mistakes are allowed

The age of the sun is now   of
    need   brown in this burn of
    hurt – after two mistakes the count is lost

The loam of the river sinks   of
    need   claim this calm of
    void – when you lose count you are free

history of song

chance as the beginning of song
  there grew in the forest of the possible a word
  there grew in the forest of the palpable an act
  there grew in the forest of the facile fact

fact as the beginning of wrong
  the forest priested, the grief of word
  guiled, the hum of sunk roots unhummed & by chance
  there grew in the forest of the possible a word –

These wounds do not wish to pray

These wounds do not wish to pray
  their fall is counted in distance
  stars are kindred
but they have yet to burn –

These wounds have no taste of enemy
  their wishdom is lost in distance
  stars are kindred
but they have yet to yearn –

These wounds amount to the green of money
  their worth is allotted to distance
  stars are kindred
but they have yet to earn –

Poet as gift

I give this poem to the lost word – to its bearing and ball – & I give it to last a forever that is more river than eye – I keep this poem as found word – as wet as river – to sing the word into a poem – sink it as a stone would – would it not? to bring the word into a poem – brink of being word or wordstone – to stagger onward with the word as if it was the last one & the first – a poem is lost in the trees – it does not know how to wait to listen to believe in ether – give me one branch of one tree & I will give you a rainforest – give me one wordbranch of one song – speak into the hollow wind – howl it stories of lost trees & lost poems – the wind will whisper it to the other –