Poet as insight

– it is transformed as it is birthed: as it becomes it is no more
– master’s tool no more, but the inch that peels off the foot
– it reverses the voyeuring oppressor’s gaze; it has survived by looking back, unrepentant, unfazed
– build your ivory tower upon it, and it spits it out, whole
– it is the silence that gnaws, knows

If greed were a pencil

How far is this sun from your
    winter’s moon? take this

parchment of dust & leech it with
    the shadow’s ink leech

it with another white while the
    eyeness of this red lingers –

If greed were a pencil would its
    nib pontificate? & the bleed of

its hue: would it fill the room
    with chance or would the

ooze serve only as passion to
    delay the evitable forever?

Tremor is amused at nothing
    as the chimes roll

Rumor is coffin it is mist
    as too the daybreak

Ardor is one with the weave
    as this gift unveils –

No mind

What brews below is symptom, nay act
   it follows that the feather is free

Communion with the people ceased to be a mere theory, to become an integral part of ourselves

– Che Guevara

What haunts below is wish, nay will
    it follows that the word will suffice

The wise have no mind of their own, finding it in the minds of ordinary people

– from the Tao Te Ching, transl. by Ursula Le Guin

When the river speaks you listen you
    tend to the bend of the river they say is pain as it tends to
    the shadow     you hark to the sense of
    the shadow
    at the heart of the river –

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)