Friday, November 11, 2016

The Incomplete Tales of Mother Ghost

1. Orfeoyote

"The very bone of my existence,
Knowledge and belief always at war
With each other, since what I know I

Can never manage quite to believe,
And one thing I know is that that's so,
And still I refuse to believe it."

Coyote began to cry because
He didn't know what to do. He tripped
And fell in the river. The current

Carried him away. He sang, "These are
Words to conjure with. Fertility.
Adaptability. Aerobic

Fitness. Disease. I can't come closer
To simple natural selection
Than that." But the fish weren't listening.

Along the shore, the nonexistent
Fairy women hawking on horseback
Included Coyote's kidnapped spouse,

Who couldn't hear him singing either.
"I'm hungry," Coyote sang sweetly.
If you're so clever, eat the river.

2. The Yoke of a Whip-Wielding Ape

The poetic oddity
Sat behind two oxen yoked
To the oddity's success.

A tree, dynamic, frozen,
Computed the power of sun.
The oddity cut it down,

Built a home out of its bones,
And sang songs through the oxen's
Horns by the hearth, counting verse.

The oddity ate and drank,
Shit and pissed like anything,
But edited the latter

Out of its long, heroic
Song about a whip-wielding
Ape who prayed invisibly

Over the bones of oxen
Burned on the bones of the trees,
Eating the fat of the gods.

3. Talking Animals

Search in vain for the parents of us all.
Our progenitors were the ghosts that smoked
Out of the mouths of terrified monkeys

Huddled tightly around one invention,
A pinched little ratchet made of nothing,
Called by later, ghostlier descendants

Various animal names for species
That will never smoke ghost names of their own:
Monkey King, the Serpent, Rat, Soma,

Raven, Coyote, and the rest of them,
The ratchet really being none of them,
Not a trickster but a trick that taught beasts

How to play with fire, weave worms and spiders,
Capture fish, sail across the seven seas,
The sex of reproducing spoken things.

4. The Singing River

Music, too, wanted to remain.
Wandering aimlessly one day
Music bumped into a sad ape

Who had fled back into the woods
From the palace where apes with whips
Serving the Monkey King mocked him.

The ape had sought out Coyote
But Music told him Coyote had fled,
Singing sorry songs for himself,

Far down the river, to the sea.
The sad ape brightened. Coyote
Gone meant an opportunity.

He offered Music a bargain.
Come sing with me and be my love
And I will place you on a throne

And make your bones ivory gods
So that all who sing and play you
Will worship you by doing so,

And I will be your humble priest
Preserving and protecting you,
If only you will come with me

And never abandon the shrines
I will have raised to enshrine you.
Music agreed and the sad ape

Became the first priest, but Music,
Immortal Music, grew restless
And fled the temple every chance

To run with creatures in the woods,
Laughing and dancing foolishly.
One day the priest found out a trick

For cutting Music's heart and soul
Away from Music's ghostly voice,
Which the priest threw in the river.

Ever since, all rivers sing, but
Even those who love their songs know
Temples hold the souls that haunt them.

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