Thursday, March 20, 2003
Issue 1377 - Thursday, March 20, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
Atârnaq, Alaskan InuitWhen the First Caribou were Tamed
A young man was once hunting caribou, but without killing them. He merely followed them, appearing every time they tried to escape from him; in that way he tired them.
In the end the animals were so exhausted that they no longer avoided him. Thus they became accustomed !o his voice, and were no longer afraid of him.
At length the young man married, but still followed the caribou, which accumulated and became more and more numerous. The only time he came back to the house he had had built was when his clothing was worn out. His wife made new clothes for him, after which he went back to the caribou and kept on following them, so that they might become familiar with him. He was wise in his way of handling them, and as he never made them afraid or chased them, they became almost tame.
Summer and autumn passed, and winter came, but still the young man was with his caribou, which were now multiplying, while other herds joined his. Then he moved his tent out to the herd, and thus he became the first caribou herdsman.
Tribute to Chief Satanta
(Chief White Bear- a great Kiowa Chief)
by Daquoi, Jan. 16, 1995
Wearing a medal on his chest
Trying to cooperate to accomplish his best.
A great Kiowa Chief
Intelligent and loved
Satanta was a hero to his people
Yet thrown in jail like a thief
In all wars this happens
Political struggles and senseless fights.
It has occurred all over this Earth
An endless sadness through all times
If Satanta lived in our age
Perhaps he could teach us how to conserve.
A gentle land loving man
He wanted only to roam free
Living in the era of his existence
No one was there to hear his plea.
In World War II overseas
Many of us Americans, captured
were treated equally unfortunately.
The past is like a sealed room
No-one can re-enter, no change
Everything final to be eternally imprinted
Like residue hauntings unrearranged.
However the past holds lessons
Messages and memories to help us.
The sadness being:
All people share the guilt
Every race has hurt another
In a previous time or place
If we could learn from one another
It could be our saving grace
For the entire human race.
Even though the past cannot be erased
Let's hope his final words
Are not the legacy for our space.
He was in an army hospital
Sad, silent, disgraced
He wanted the nurse to tell him
If he could ever leave his prison
When he found out she answered "no"
He hurled out a second story window
Or that is what the history books show
An over exhausted emptiness of soul
A tormented unfortunate ending
For a roaming nature wise spirit
If we stop polluting and care for our world
Perhaps our future won't be "out the window"
A better future could be secured
Let's peacefully cooperate together
So a future goodness is insured.
I met a man of many colors
And a tear was upon his cheek.
"Old man" I ask, "why do you cry
With such an agonizing weep?"
"Oh child" this man he says to me,
"My heart is broken in so many ways
That I believe this day to end
Will find me out stretched and far within
The encompassing earth of sin."
I sat down beside this man
And asked him "do not cry.
For what you think is so bad
That life will pass you by?"
He looks at me with such sad eyes.
And weeps ever more.
He holds his hands out to me
And alas, I do see
The anguish of his heart.
For his hands were different colors
One is red and the other white,
A leg he unclothed for me
Was as yellow as could be
And his other leg as black as night.
"I am the father of the world.
In case you do not know.
And my children have grown apart
And fight among themselves.
For when they do not get along
My arms and legs and hands and feet
Destroys the very life of me.
My hands of red and white
Will not feed this face of night.
And my legs of black and yellow,
Will not stand beneath this body
And support my heart and soul.
For they argue far too much,
And now I have grown old.
So here I sit in this haven
And when this day ends,
A father I will not be.
For my children of many nations
Have forgotten how to accompany me.
47 years old
Kent Johnson's most recent book is Immanent Visitor: Selected Poems of Jaime Saenz (U. of California Press), which he translated with Forrest Gander.
Oh, little crown of iron forged to likeness of imam's face,
what are you doing in this circle of flaming inspectors and bakers?
And little burnt dinner all set to be eaten
(and crispy girl all dressed with scarf for school),
what are you doing near this shovel for dung-digging,
hissing like ice-cubes in ruins of little museum?
And little shell of bank on which flakes of assets fall,
can't I still withdraw my bonds for baby?
Good night moon.
Good night socks and good night cuckoo clocks.
Good night little bedpans and a trough where once there was an inn
(urn of dashed pride),
what are you doing beside little wheelbarrow
beside some fried chickens?
And you, ridiculous wheels spinning on mailman's truck,
truck with ashes of letter from crispy girl all dressed with scarf for school,
why do you seem like American experimental poets going nowhere
on little exercise bikes?
Good night barbells and ballet dancer's shoes
under plastered ceilings of Saddam Music Hall.
Good night bladder of Helen Vendler and a jar from Tennessee.
(though what are these doing here in Baghdad?)
Good night blackened ibis and some keys.
Good night, good night.
(And little mosque popped open like a can, which same as factory of
flypaper has blown outward, covering the shape of man with it (with
mosque): He stumbles up Martyr's Promenade. What does it matter
who is speaking, he murmurs and mutters, head a little bit on fire.
Good night to you too.)
Good night moon.
Good night poor people who shall inherit the moon.
Good night first editions of Das Kapital, Novum Organum,
The Symbolic Affinities between Poetry Blogs and Oil Wells,
and the Koran.
Good night nobody.
Good night Mr. Kent, good night, for now you must
soon wake up and rub your eyes and know that you are dead.