A wallowa is a Native American fish trap
the Nez Perce built from sticks,
like wicker fences set crosswise in the river.
They used them to herd bull and rainbow trout
into the shallows where they clubbed and gaffed them.
I spent this morning on the Minam river
at one of their old fishing spots.
I teased the river for hours with my fly line.
All I got was bone cold feet
from the mountain runoff.
On the way back to camp
I startled a bull elk in the trees
exploding the stillness
in a thud of hooves
and cracking branches.
The sun walked down the mountain
faster than I could get back across
the valley for eggs and bacon,
home made bread, jam and coffee.
Later I sat in the hot sun
warming my feet and trying to write
but in the end I just sat there
staring at the morning
with its buzzing quiet ways.
Maybe I could build
a wallowa for herding ideas,
fragments, chum and by-catch
into the shallows where my
gaff is sharp and my club is ready.
But I know the majority of the poetry fish
will swim through as they should
as though there were
no sticks in the river at all.
Posted in poetry
Tagged poetry, wallowa
I wrote this poem for my wife, who is part Native American.
a moon-dark sun
ringed in Indian light
peace pipe direct
made from the seeds of days
you thread together
to remind us
of where we and love
Today’s guest poet is brother Don Brandis. He sends in this fine and funny meditation on karma.
The Fundament of Karma
We at Unibody Inc are emailing
because your karma account is nearly empty
without significant new debt
you risk a zero balance
in which case, well, you can’t go there
we respectfully suggest that you go slap someone
preferably a total stranger, in a public place,
as in full of witnesses
public karma is stronger and more lasting
than private envy or vengefulness or malice
our accounting department assures us of the unlikelihood
of a zero balance
unless you’ve been a saint through 40 lifetimes
have you been neglecting your body?
everything it wants needs you to exist
or it (you) become like Schrodinger’s cat
since you haven’t been listening to your body
try to imagine you’ve become both existent and non-existent
as well as neither
as you will unless you owe someone.
You are what you owe yourself
and what you owe yourself you owe us;
the fundament of karma
once under a long-stemmed moon
we became human for a minute
like a woman wearing a black abaya
with a gold filigree rose inside
singing softly behind a high wall
in the market in old Aleppo
i cannot think of why
you created me
my father’s mind
there are splinters of knowing
(you and me)
open to the sky between
the tiny pieces of terror