THE TRICKSTER RESPONDS

The man liked to cry out into the night,
asking questions for which he knew
there could be no answers, or if
there were, they would be things
he would never wish to hear.
The coyotes in the hills would listen
to his pleas, his entreaties, his
moaning, and they would remember
the spirits of the old ones gone,
and yet back in their now-animal forms.
One night a trickster sat on the mesa,
and when the man began his questions,
the trickster, orange eyes aflame
spoke clearly, loudly, telling the man
that the answer to each of his questions
lay within himself, and he need only
look there, if he had the courage,
which the coyote knew, he lacked.

ÁŁTSÉ HASHKÉ (THE TRICKSTER)

The wind takes up voice
as it caresses these mountains,
it’s song a lullaby to the coyotes
staring at the waning moon.
When night grows darkest, they
join in the song, a spirit kirtan
they have practiced for centuries.
Men stare nervously on the mesa
at the stars providing faint light,
the moon wrapping herself
in her cumulus shroud, and
the twinned orange orbs
that peer out from the sage.
They see only fear of coyote,
imagine the trickster
seeking to perpetrate evil
not the Kachina out in the night
to oversee and protect the land
that is rightfully theirs.

CANYON

He stands  on the edge
of the canyon and peers
into the river etched below.
At first you think
he is considering jumping,
but his gaze is too studious,
as if he is waiting
for some particular moment.
You are correct,
he is waiting
for a particular moment
and when it arrives
he shouts at the far
canyon wall, entreating God
and the ghosts
that inhabit the nearby
cliff dwellings.
God answers
in the man’s voice, echoing
his plea, and the ghosts
take up the chorus.
He smiles
and retreats
from the precipice
certain that he,
and all who are holy,
sing in harmony.

HOPI DREAMING

Look to the East
stare at the sky
and feel the winds
carry away the snow
which paints our lands
and shrouds our ancestors
in a mantle of white.
Look to the South
see the waters of the river
flowing gently to the horizon
bringer of the fish spirits,
its azure waters
washing away to merge
into a crystal blue sky.
Look to the West
where the great spirit
slowly rises, chasing away
the chill of night
that cuts into our bones –
watch him slowly rise
the great yellow disk.
Look to the North
where the spirits of the dead
dance among the mesas
and creep into our dreams
stealing our life force
then slip away
into the blackness of night.

NIGHTWAY TOKYO

It is well into
the Season When Thunder Sleeps
and the crowds no longer
snaked through  Shinjuku Park
where even the stones were
in quiet hibernation.
The sun fell quickly
sucking away the light
bringing the sleep of dreams
and nightmares, of love
and terror and despair.
The night chant began
for yet another night
the intonation of the dancers
flitting around
the ceremonial pit
dug into the street,
all wearing the badge
of the clan, the uniform
and helmet of a true
army of the road.
They wore the tribal masks
to ward off the dust and diesel.
and performed the Yeibichaiy
as their gods had directed,
struggling to excise the demons
and return harmony to the city.

COYOTE SONG

Down at the butt end
of the arroyo is a pond,
an aneurysm in the stream
that runs down from the mountains
for better than a month
each spring.
The twisted, gnarled mesquite
cluster around it,
like children gazing at a corpse
in utter fascination
who dare not approach
lest it become real and touch them.
The three scrawny goats
nibble at the mesquite
and stare at themselves
on the surface, occasionally
dragging their tongues
through the water.
Each night as the sun
is swallowed by the earth,
their songs begin
until the gods arise
from the water
and dance
across the parched ground.

MESA

This night
in cold moonlight
earth rises up
clouds float down
ghosts walk the margin.
Old ones sing
          now shall be then
older ones still sing
          then shall be once
to wolf and coyote.

This season of north winds
suns heat barren
spirits rise up
dreams descend
man lies interspersed.
Women sing
          we are bearers
men sing
          we are sowers.