The taking of life brings serious thoughts.
We have come thus far, my brothers. We have already laid our plans. With magic power the trail is made easy, bordered with flowers, grass, and trees.
The enemy saw the apparent bounty of nature and assembled, laughing, to gather the seeds and plants. It was the power of the distant magician which made the enemy enjoy his fancied prosperity.
In the center of our council ground the fire burned and, lighting a cigarette, I puffed smoke toward the east. Slowly a vision arose before me …
On the mountain tops was a yellow-spider magician, upon where I called for help. He went to the enemy, darkened their hearts, tied their hands and their bows, and made them grow weak as women.
Then he pushed us on to destroy the enemy. We rushed upon the Apaches and killed them without difficulty.
With gladness in my heart I gathered the evidences of my victory and turned toward home.
You may think this over, my relatives. The taking of life brings serious thoughts of the waste; the celebration of victory may become riotous.
~A Pima Poem
Some day, if you are lucky,
you’ll return from a thunderous journey
trailing snake scales, wing fragments
and the musk of Earth and moon.
Eyes will examine you for signs
of damage, or change
and you, too, will wonder
if your skin shows traces
of fur, or leaves,
if thrushes have built a nest
of your hair, if Andromeda
burns from your eyes.
Do not be surprised by prickly questions
from those who barely inhabit
their own fleeting lives, who barely taste
their own possibility, who barely dream.
If your hands are empty, treasureless,
if your toes have not grown claws,
if your obedient voice has not
become a wild cry, a howl,
you will reassure them. We warned you,
they might declare, there is nothing else,
no point, no meaning, no mystery at all,
just this frantic waiting to die.
And yet, they tremble, mute,
afraid you’ve returned without sweet
elixir for unspeakable thirst, without
a fluent dance or holy language.
~ Geneen Marie Haugen
Things a Shaman Sees
on a steep river bank
there’s a voice that speaks
I’ve seen the master of that voice
he bowed to me
I spoke with him
he answers all my questions
everything that is
little gray bird
little blue breast
sings in a hollow bough
she calls her spirits dances
sings her shaman songs
woodpecker on a tree
that’s his drum
he’s got a drumming nose
and the tree shakes
cries out like a drum
when the axe bites its side
at these things answer
everything that is
the lantern walks around
the walls of this house have tongues
even this bowl has its own true home
the hides asleep in their bags
were up talking all night
antlers on the graves
rise and circle the mounds
while the dead themselves get up
and go visit the living ones.
- Khetani Machangana: Learn To See