Prayer to the Pacific
–Leslie Marmon Silko
I traveled to the ocean
from my southwest land of sandrock
to the moving blue water
Big as the myth of origin.
pale water in the yellow-white light of
sun floating west
where ocean herself was born.
Clouds that blow across the sand are wet.
Squat in the wet sand and speak to the Ocean:
I return to you turquoise the red coral you sent us,
sister spirit of Earth.
Four round stones in my pocket I carry back the ocean
to suck and to taste.
Thirty thousand years ago
Indians came riding across the ocean
carried by giant sea turtles.
Waves were high that day
great sea turtles waded slowly out
from the gray sundown sea.
Grandfather Turtle rolled in the sand four times
swimming into the sun.
And so from that time
as the old people say,
rain clouds drift from the west
gift from the ocean.
Green leaves in the wind
Wet earth on my feet
clear from China.
Like the twist of a knife, the shaft penetrates – first a naked man wandering freely through city streets, covered in feathers and erect. Then suddenly, the twist – a different man, a broken disaster of a man, “quarrelsome and desperate”. These who populate.
About the Knife
Street Corner College
Next year the grave grass will cover us.
We stand now, and laugh;
Watching the girls go by;
Betting on slow horses; drinking cheap gin.
We have nothing to do; nowhere to go; nobody.
Last year was a year ago; nothing more.
We weren’t younger then; nor older now.
We manage to have the look that young men have;
We feel nothing behind our faces, one way or other.
We shall probably not be quite dead when we die.
We were never anything all the way; not even soldiers.
We are the insulted, brother, the desolate boys.
Sleepwalkers in a dark and terrible land,
Where solitude is a dirty knife at our throats.
Cold stars watch us chum
Cold stars and the whores.
Is the total black, being spoken
From the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open.
How a diamond comes into a knot of flame
How a sound comes into a word, coloured
By who pays what for speaking.
Some words are open
Like a diamond on glass windows
Singing out within the crash of passing sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
In a perforated book—buy and sign and tear apart—
And come whatever wills all chances
The stub remains
An ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
Breeding like adders. Others know sun
Seeking like gypsies over my tongue
To explode through my lips
Like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Love is a word another kind of open—
As a diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am black because I come from the earth’s inside
Take my word for jewel in your open light.
–Claude de Burine
An unshaded avenue
will from now on be my life
where once I spoke love
the way a sheet is spread in the sun
with my absent voyagers
more living than the living
milestones along the way
towards an unknown world
minus passport or time
where words hoist black flags
Une allée san ombre
sera maintenant ma vie
où je disais amour
comme un étend un drap au soleil
avec mes absents voyageurs
plus vivants que les vivants
bornes sur le chemin
vers un monde inconnu
sans passeport ni temps
où les mots hissent le drapeau noir.
If we could get the hang of it entirely
It would take too long;
All we know is the splash of words in passing
And falling twigs of song,
And when we try to eavesdrop on the great
Presences it is rarely
That by a stroke of luck we can appropriate
Even a phrase entirely.
If we could find our happiness entirely
In somebody else’s arms
We should not fear the spears of the spring nor the city’s
Yammering fire alarms
But, as it is, the spears each year go through
Our flesh and almost hourly
Bell or siren banishes the blue
Eyes of Love entirely.
And if the world were black or white entirely
And all the charts were plain
Instead of a mad weir of tigerish waters,
A prism of delight and pain,
We might be surer where we wished to go
Or again we might be merely
Bored but in brute reality there is no
Road that is right entirely.