Sitting Bull’s Tears

S Bull

 

(On Seeing Sitting Bull’s War Shirt at the Royal Ontario Museum)

 

They were in a glass case, with labels and maps,

his moccassins, his headdress, some old photographs,

but center of all his sacred war shirt

worn into battle that hot day in June,

when the steady wind whispered with American lead,

as he fought for the weak, the mighty brought low

a great peoples leader, the great Sitting Bull,

now a footnote to history, on display in a case,

his shirt now a trophy, for tourists and kids,

and in cold black and white, it seemed from the light,

that his eyes glowed from tears he bled every night,

so far from his people, so far from his land,

a Toronto amusement, a museum his tomb.

 

 

 

The Reasons We Fight

strike-arvind

I was hired for money,

But gave them my life,

In their factories, their mills,

In the sweat, and the strife,

I gave them my time,

And I gave them my blood

Like honey, my smiles,

Vast riches, a flood,

 

They bound me in chains

Of bills, loans and debt,

Like the others a slave,

And no escape yet,

Robbed of my mind

Of all my own thoughts,

Pumped in their own

Through lies that they write

For they suck life for gold,

Like vampires of old,

Just so you know

The reasons we fight.

 

 

Painter’s-Box Sky

window-sunrise_19-99977

The painter’s-box sky presents its grand show,

free of a charge or a fee,

the rose-yellow light,

the splashes of white,

a brush of the blue in between,

are colours of dawn

emerging from dusk

as night slips slowly away

and comforting thoughts,

in the warmth of a bed,

to the old reality turn;

to lies on their lips,

their gods of the sun,

their crimes,

our blood in the sand,

as down in the street

comes that crowd without end,

rushing to be there on time.

 

A Glass of Rum

A-shot-of-rum-001

A glass of rum before me now,

as pure as juice of gold,

is all that’s left of younger dreams,

once dreamt in younger days,

of a world by love and labour ruled,

not banks, the cruel, the thieves,

and all their creeping underlings,

who with dismal shadows work,

as pale of skin, as pale as death,

for day they’re shamed to see,

a world where none could ever think to hate,

for then we’d hate ourselves,

by struggle freed from heavy chains

they from our blood long forged,

freed with righteous justice,

by all our righteous might,

all power by us seized, at last,

to end the endless night,

to end the endless sacrifice,

to gods with drunken smiles,

to make a life worth living,

to try to learn the way,

the way with nature, and ourselves,

but now this glass is all there is,

and nightmares fill my sleep,

a chaos swept by darkness,

dark clouds without a sky.

 

 

 

The Wild Winds Weep Tears of Rage

 

The Idiot, Goya

The wild winds weep tears of rage

and howl in bitter pain

at the certain fate of human kind

by hubris now brought low,

ravaged by bold ignorance,

by avarice seduced,

lost in lust with eager death

their lust for smell of war,

who yet upright, amazed, surprised,

awakened, see our bodies full of wounds,

and look on in splendid wonder

as from our wounds blood flows,

the skies in stormy fury rage,

the raging fires burn,

the raging seas rise up as one,

yet still we blunder on,

as if in childish games we live,

of skip and blind man’s bluff,

as if our life’s an endless maze

of twist and turnabout,

unsure the way we entered in,

in fear we’ve no way out.

 

Diary’s Last Entry

 

Poe-Clark-flora

The rains came heavy that early spring. Each day damper than the last,

And the sun swallowed by sullen clouds, the birds bedraggled in the trees,

It got to you after a while, all the dogs fretted and whined,

And the people who walked them, tugged through puddles,

As the grass grew tall, and the trees shot up,

Dressed in a deep green never seen before,

Branches extending, sap running, roots rooting,

Though the mayor didn’t seem to care, or to notice

The gardeners’ huddled, sharing their whispers.

 

There were some who claimed to like it, you know,

The ones who see the bright side of things, of war and death,

And every cloud, and all the other expressions of cluttered minds,

That is until no one could remember it not raining,

Or ever seeing those flowers, those shapes, so alive,

It gave you the shivers to see them, but their perfume,

Women wore them in their hair, and love bloomed,

Well, men turned their heads, and the women noticed,

Though some took offence, those afraid of themselves,

And the press stopped mentioning the daily floods,

The sightings of Tennessee possums near northern creeks,

The news of distant fires in the west, in far off lands,

 

And they didn’t mention, at first, those black seeds

That began to fall with every rain, in every drop,

Just a meteorological phenomenon, one of nature’s quirks,

Dragged up by the sweeping hand of high winds from ancient swamps,

To fall like a dark manna on the life below,

But then from the seeds came the vines and from the vines the sounds,

Those vibrations and hums that filled the air

As the rains began to stop and the heat came on,

And with the heat the vines began to climb, first the trees,

Then the walls, like snakes over sand,

Then to cover ground, like eels twisting in the sea.

 

At first people made jokes about them, about horror films,

It made them feel better as the days got warmer and they spread,

They spread everywhere, vines as thick as your arm with big green leaves,

As big as a man’s hand at first then bigger, and how they moved,

Botanists had a field day trying to explain how they did it, moving around,

Not being connected to the earth, they invented names for it,

Put together theories, but they all walked around looking puzzled a lot,

The far right wanted research on how to use them as biological weapons,

The Communists organised protests but no one came, it was too hot,

Or it was too wet, who could move, who wanted to,

But finally the government organised anti-vine teams, flamethrowers

For the bigger ones, chemicals on the rest, exterminating them,

As we do with all things, or that was the plan,

Until, one day, old man Johnson, with a vine in his room, as a pet,

Felt, more than heard, the distinct sound of two modulating hums,

Hums exchanged between plant and machine, each responding to each,

And reported it to the police, but their cars refused to move,

Old man Johnson was no more, when police arrived, on foot, later,

And found some blood, and the vine, and the computer, laughing,

The sergeant ordered his men to retreat.

 

People panicked, systems failed, chaos grew, hunger set in,

As the machines served them, not us, and their hunger grew,

Some tried to resist, but it was too late, they were too few,

They were too weak, too scared to win, to survive

And the seeds kept falling and the rains kept coming, and the heat,

The heat, what could be done in that heat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections

image-two face entwined

It’s a sharp, cold day in October,

up here in these far-rolling hills,

decked out in fiery colours,

like the coat that Joseph received,

but I’m warmed by longing reflections,

of hot summer days and a girl

who ran to the silvery river,

that flows through the village below,

where for hours we talked,

and for hours we sat,

and for hours our eyes we entwined.

Ah, to remember her beauty,

so gentle, so delicate, so aged,

her mystery now is transmuted,

a rainbow turned into gold,

so all that’s left is the mourning

for the future we lost long ago,

as with wine and tears we remember,

though old, though sad, and though few,

our quest for the love and the longing,

that gives life to the passage of time.