To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dennis Tedlock: Six More Poems from Alcheringa

The Year

First comes
Broken Branches Moon
the snow is heavy
Snowless Road Moon
it snows
but it doesn’t stick to the road
Little Wind Moon
when the snow is in patches
Big Wind Moon
Nameless Moon
Turnabout Moon
Broken Branches Moon
also called Rooster Pull
the time of the rodeo
Snowless Road Moon
also called Get-together
Little Wind Moon
Big Wind Moon
also called Pick-the-ears-of-corn
Nameless Moon
when they set the date for the dancers
Turnabout Moon
All these twelve together are called

Winter Solstice

Here is the place of fear
for four days
no greasy foods are eaten
there is no coffee
no trade
all places of business are closed
for ten days
no sweepings
no garbage is taken out of the house
no fire is taken out of the house
not even cigarettes are lighted outside
people shouldn’t use their cars
the street lights are all turned out
this is the middle of time.


Fill a bowl with hot water
add, to taste:
dried leaves of wild mint
ground chili
dried chinchweed flowers
& venison jerky.
This is called
it is
an ancient dish.


Pull down the husk
all around
then twist it all off at once
with the stem
put the dry ears in this pile
for us
put the damp ears
the moldy ears in this one
for the hogs
& throw the shucks out there
some of the ears are yellow
some are blue
some are pretty
the multicolored ones
some are black
look for the Fully-Finished-Ear
without a single kernel missing
right to the very tip
a deer, a buck
wears that one on his breast
& the Flat-Ear
with a forked tip
a doe wears that one on her breast
& the Road-Ear
with a groove down its whole length
runners wear that one on their backs
now here it is
a Fully-Finished-Ear
but it’s wet
I’ll put it at the edge of the good pile
& here is an ear
yellow, but
each kernel
is tinged with red
it’s sort of pretty
there’s no name for this one
I’ll put it here on the fence rail
maybe I’ll do something with it later.

When The Witches Are Out

On the road at night
we caught a deer in the headlights
he didn’t know which way to go
he came toward us
turning left & right
in the lights
we stopped
he cut left through the sunflowers
into the dark
we went up to the house
so our nephew could get his rifle
on our way back down the road
there was another car coming
far off
his lights went out
we rode all the way down past
where the deer was
& there was no deer
& no car.

The Two Of Them

The Zuni
& the anthropologist
walk a narrow road
to the tip of the mesa
to see the Hopi Snake Dance
between two sheer drops
the Zuni says
to the anthropologist
- Both sides!
You jump one way
& I’ll jump the other.

[Additional poems from this series -- with a note on Dennis Tedlock -- appeared earlier in Poems and Poetics.]


Ed Baker said...

from the opening of this 'run'

"First comes
Broken Branch Moon

to the "step out from"

"& I'll jump the other."


I got a tear in my eye...
both of them

this is MAJOR "stuff"


sending you a scan of my
devil/full moon in the cornfield piece..

Anonymous said...

the ed baker moon
always full

. . .

whose ear was pierced one night
at jerry and diane's

Dave said...

Thanks for posting these. I was actually turned on to your own work by reading the Tedlocks originally. Wonderful anthropologists and writers, the both of the them.