TONGUES

Ninety-six years ago today
Women gained the right to vote.
It would be another five
before those who preceded
the lot of us were blessed with citizenship,
the least we could offer, after
our prior gifts of disease,
alcoholism and down sizing.
Who, our forebears must have imagined,
wouldn’t want to live somewhere
they had a reservation in their name
we had given them, their land
taken with their language,
no longer useful in our shared world.
The King of France allowed
only the Jews to be moneylenders,
reserved space in each town for us as well,
for which we are still told
we should be thankful, but
you have no idea how to say so in Navajo.

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.