The Last World of Fire and Trash/New Poem/Song copyright Joy Harjo


I don’t know anything anymore
or if that cricket is still singing
in a country where crickets are banned.
I’m a misplaced Mvskoke in a strange pastiche
smells like curry and sweat
from Toi’s rock and roll restaurant
where a native woman drunk on fear
ruins her meal with a sour tirade, then
pushes back for a cigarette
with her pretty man commandeered.
I can’t get her face out of my mind,
in this hotel room where we’re packing for home.
I’ve seen that same face whirring in the blur
of a whiskey glass
after the crashed dance, the goodbye song
in the last world of fire and trash.
Beneath the moon rocking above
to a cricket round dance song
She punched me then for being brown,
she punched me for being white,
for going too far,
for being a nothing next to a nothing like her.
This thought too will pass, I remind myself for the thousandth
time before I drown in the aftermath.
And think about lighting a cigarette
though I now have tobacco just for prayers.
And then I let that thought go running away
because I refuse to stay in bondage to a drunk demon
each filthy cell of the beast
fed by doctored thoughts of an enemy
who thinks he wants what I have.
Here it is, oh fearful one:
my desires have turned into a small mountain
of dirty clothes, sax gig bag, guitar
books, shoes, tossed underwear and grief
to be packed and carried
from one raw wound to another.
I consider then how the last council of peace was disrupted by bombs
as I fled from the house of my mother
through this severed country,
and see again the stumble of the woman who could not
find peace anywhere as she headed out the door
for her next fix of cigarette.
I turned my cheek as my head parted through a curtain of blood, like birth
as most humans do when erupting from the spirit world to this gambling place--
to enter the story
of the giant breaking down the door to kill or save us
My companion on this dangerous journey
you know too much already.
I've brought more than my share of bags
on this travel.
Don't worry. I see you through the haze of pain.
You are a bear hunkering over a salmon.
No, you’ve grown out of the myth and
you’ve resorted to sorting clothes
instead of luring sailors
to their death.
I refuse to sum it up anymore;
it’s not possible.
I want to give it up
to the battering of songs against the light,
to the singing of the earnest cricket.
For years I have been making a thought like the dignity of an eagle
who can lead us into the next place with thunder and grace.
What is it we must do alone in this world, yet only with each other
I haven't got the riddle straight, yet.

October 2003 West Hollywood copyright Joy Harjo

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