Speaking of Birds, and Revisions

And then there was the bully ring of mynahs in the parking lot at Long's a few years ago. While loading groceries we were taken by the sound of a fight; we could literally hear blows landing. A circle of mynahs surrounded several males who were punching, beating up on another male. I was shocked by the viciousness, so human-like.

And what about: "remedial leadership classes"?


Here's a rewrite:


We run for it
Out past the buoy and then we turn back into hard north winds.
There’s no winning. We just keep moving through slices of rain.
Though I’m here in the bow of a running canoe,
I’m in a song from the ceremonial grounds
That has attached itself through rhythm.
Cadence of belief is cadence of muscle.
Redbird talks to the sun at dawn,
White heron flies over the grounds at noon.
There’s no thinking; I’ve traded the weight of this skin for something
A little lighter: like sunlight on water or like the moment I saw your eyes
First catch light for me.
Come here I said.
And the water people below the canoe are just trying to hold it up.
The surface people have forgotten how to sing for anything but fame.
It’s raining urgently. “You’d better listen, urgently”,
Say the winds.
So, I’m listening to the falling, urgently.
And I keep not thinking of how far it is to the origin of rain.

c Joy Harjo 2/11/05 for L.

and a new one:

Letter to Lawson

I have lived 19,404 midnights, some of them in the quaver of fish dreams
And some without any memory at all, just the flash of the jump
From a night rainbow, to an island of fire and flowers--such a holy
Leap between forgetting and jazz. How long has it been since I called you back?
After Albuquerque with my baby in diapers on my hip ; it was a difficult birth
I was just past girlhood slammed into motherhood. What a bear.

Beyond the door of my tongue is a rail and I’m leaning over to watch bears
Catch salmon with their teeth. That realm isn’t anywhere near Los Angeles. If I dream
It all back then I reconstruct that song buried in the muscle of urgency. I’m bereft
in the lost nation of debtors. Wey yo hey, wey yo hey yah hey. Pepper jumped
And some of us went with him to the stomp. All night, beyond midnight, back
Up into the sky, holy.

It was a holy mess, wholly of our folly, drawn of ashes around the hole
Of our undoing. Back there the ceremonial fire was disassembled, broken and bare
Like chordal breaks forgetting to blossom. Around midnight, I turn my back
And watch prayers take root beneath the moon. Not that dreams
Have anything to do with it exactly. I get jumpy
In the aftermath of a disturbed music. I carried that baby up the river, gave birth

To nothing but the blues in buckskin and silk. Get back, I said, and what bird
Have you chosen to follow in your final years of solitude? Go ahead, jump holy
Said the bear prophet. Wey ya hah. Wey ya hah. All the way down to the jamming
Flowers and potholes. There has to be a saxophone in there somewhere, some notes bear
Little resemblance to the grown child. Now I’ve got to be dreaming
Take me back

Or don’t take me back to Tulsa. I can only marry the music; the outlook’s bleak
Without it. I mean it. And then I don’t. Too many questions mar the answer. Breath
Is the one And two And. Dream sweet prophet of sound, dream
Mvskoke acrobat of disruption. It’s nearing midnight and something holy
Is always coming around. Take love for instance, and the bare
Perfect neck of a woman who’s given up everything for the forbidden leap

To your arms as you lean over the railing to hear the music hopping at the jump
Pull of the line. She will never be here again in the break of the phrase back
Before this maverick music was invented. It’s the midnight hour and sweet dark love bares
It all. I can hear it again: the blue moon caving in to tears of muscle and blood. Birth
Of the new day begins less than one second after. It’s that exact , this science of the holy.
So that’s where it is, this incubation of broken dreams.

It took forever for that bear of a horn player to negotiate the impossible jump.
Weh yo hey Weh yo hah, those water spirits will carry that girl all the way back
To the stomp grounds where jazz was born. It’s midnight. How holy.

c Joy Harjo LA, CA February 28, 2005

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