Red Cedar Distances

“We came to the foot of a hill and there I saw a cave. Then Great-Mountain went down / into it, for a ladder was standing in it. I was next to him. / LE’lpila was last. As soon as I went down I heard / something like the rushing sound of a river. Now I came to the (1) stone floor of the inside and it was like a house which was dark. Then I was taken hold of by Ha’daho and he made me sit down where / hemlock branches were. For a long time none of the shamans spoke.”

George Hunt, “I Desired to Learn / the Ways of the Shaman /” (20)


inside the meta- physic cave, where dark- ness feeds on us and magic lanterns speak of platonic en- trapments (which catch you and fling you into horrendous suns blinded by logo- centrism) figures carved in sound & rivered in fowl speech rush by, erase the edge- work of our craft, blur our knowledged faces into fine dust & our lovelinesses melt away in the unsounded depth, mastries galatean or otherwise, purged & consumed like flesh in the wake of evening alliances, fall away in thrushfire: they aren’t statues nor totems those eye-lines which invert our galleries and shine on the pathways of shared breath; across chance horizons drawn upward to a sudden burst of hemlock & its neighboring silence of enraptured owls (those who bridge the ceiling-cloud to its ground) they paint the stars electrical and weave strings on the arc of Lyra; nor is the unkindness of ravens a construct of decomposed systems, a myth disassembled into signage or “psychology”; the weight defies you and holds your irises up as a bell on gold-chain does specks of ravished pollen in disordered light, a disappearance of calloused hands into card deck carpet into figure, clockface into grief; of Heine’s gods into refrigerator repairmen; the dinosaur disappears into a hiss of black swans & the magpie hiberates in the skin of a journalist who wagers that the next election will end in failure, a failure of the State but not the failure of the body whose taxidermy might save us from embarrassment in the museums of an alien anthropology; I once ate of human form & this person I was in the days of metaphysical folly (outside the body while in the body) was a brown bear in love with the ways of bipedal life & in love with industries of thoughtful meat, secretly in love with headless organisms who channeled their rage thru E. coli & protozoa; colonial lifeforms; bacterial gated communities; a loveliness of thread- -suns stitched into fabric as sunspots are stitched into baked skin; to be beast enough to read scripts on such luminous surfaces: the white crest of a wave collapsed on whale hump evaporated in a swoon of plankton: the fibers of wood when I lick its honeyed lacquer in a fever of diabetic discomposure: the bees who puncture my wool and waltz me toward slow death in the warm red-dotted pores that suck in their fuzzy incandescent siren: the eidolon that rings in the eagle’s lensed roam which eats of the image before it eats of the torn viscera of a dormouse; like these I am dispassionate, indifferent as a god is in the cud of regurgitated oilseed & roughage in the mouth of Kamadhenu; and my brain runs wild in the aftergrowth of jungle fire, cannibalizing the remains of my brown kindred in the stomachs of white language whose digestion puppets shapes in the crude form of men grown mad from colonial ennui; northern bison gesticulate while I hunt the ways of magic on the periphery of their lettered vision their tracks glow in a fire whose intention lies behind intention itself, what is called communitas, the instinct for Reason’s inordinate unreason in a chaos of kinship within dietary regimes: Revolutionary cannibalism or sacral cannibalism or cultural cannibalism or vulgar cannibalism or bourgeois cannibalism: the fulfillment of a wish-image in a consumption of parts to a missing whole: the parts of a butchered hog parts of a Rolex wristwatch parts of a case file titled “the Blue Rose of Novalis” parts of a magnolia quartered in pistil stamen calyx and corolla parts of speech in Caliban’s mastery of egyptian curses or his creole eye long on the throat of delectable dutchmen whose language he’ll feast on under baroque altars rendered holy by meta- -morphosis of blood into wine, Tonantzin into Guadalupe, corn-gods into Monsanto, conquest into cuisine & tourism; I tried to live among the red ants but they kicked me out, unclean as I was, awash in cultures of the indeterminate; I was not a good worker, I was not ride-or-die, I was not scribbling epistles and I did not beautify the names of things with latin umbrage; I mixed the measurements, I growled when the undertow came for my feet, and then my legs and afterward my velocity; I sent up a lament to Them, a poem that begins with “A,” and ends in “Beloved,” and I saw her piecing together the long eyebrows of a brother-spirit, a waxen figure lifted higher than heaven’s forehead, the red cedar was on her brow blackened in charcoal and I fell down into my slumber as the owl falls down into the resistance of its prey, its much loved its cherished, and I sank below the whole of its multitude, and mixed with the warm dirt and the mucus of the earth, of what contains all the beasts and yet negates them, as the night negates a field of cows munching soundlessly on the grass, in which all things are black and purer than the mustard seed dreaming of the mountain’s breast at dawn’s climax; The animals are calling us, our tongues are en- meshed in riverspeak; and i wait for you (as the crow waits for lustrous carrion on the roadways) at the threshold between the stone’s soft gaze & the red cedar distances