Black (day 2324)

I want a house designed all in black
I want to cover any colors, exposed
With ash, stain, darkness,
Shou Sugi Ban
– A blackness that cannot be rubbed off –
I will tint the windows
And dim the lights,
Burning only black candles.
Nothing new will enter this house
Nothing fresh or alive
Nothing that will shed light
On the depth of this hallow
Forever written in black ink
Upon black dyed paper.
I will eat only black beans
That will sit upon a black plate
Of black rice beside black olives,
Occasionally a loaf of pumpernickel
Will be permitted within.
I will wash with black soap
In a tub of black pearl
Dried by a black towel,
And my sheets of black cotton
Will rest quietly below
My duvet of black duck feathers
For my black soul
To sleep, evermore.

I Shall Not Walk Alone (day 2176)

Your gravity
Has been pulling me
Into a void
I care not to ignore
Anymore.
I care not to ignore
Precious angles
I’ve begun to run into
Lately.
Your mirrors
Will work again
Once I
Reflect long enough
To see
My reflection
Clearly.
Your house
Of angles
Has become the antithesis
Of a void
Which I’ve stepped into
Knowing.
I shall not walk
Alone.

To Be Sold (day 2103)

I laid there bleeding cold
Everything I had not seen
Now coming to my mind
Eyes fading to clean
Void and his sister: darkness
Sources of all I forgot
Laid here by a pistol
Made elaborately to be sold
In a house where everything
Is made to be seen
And there I lay motionless
No less then ever
Missing from the scene.

Moon at Midnight – Part XXVIII (day 2002)

(part XXVII)

The next day riders from other Blackfoot tribes came
And Mountain Chief, Moon Cow, and three other men
Rode off to a great meeting of Chiefs
I knew, and could tell,
That nobody was pleased with what the U.S. Army was doing
And tension was clearly in the air
Nobody felt comfortable
And people were becoming worried
Suspicious
These proud people were feeling scared
In the very land they had always lived free.

I spent the next few days with Willow and Lily
Walking through the grassland and forests
Looking for fuel and food
Waiting, I guess,
Our presence comforted each other
Reassured each other
All three of us had become very close
With all the time we had shared over the winter
It was exciting for me to recognize
How much Lily had already learned from her mother
She was very good at finding the herbs
That her mother would ask her to find for her
She would come back with a handful of them
And an even bigger smile on her face.

Willow told me that she had heard of other tribes
Being forced into slavery
To being held captive on certain land
The Government had given them
If they signed a Peace Treaty
I listened quietly,
For I had also heard such things
Further in the South and East
And was saddened from what I did hear
I asked Willow if she would want to live like that
And she said that she would not
She was born free and would obey nobody but the earth
I asked her if she would rather
Live off the land like a nomad
Always wandering more and more
Or if she would like to live more like Amy & Frank
She said she did not know
But that she did see the benefit of having land
To return to every year
Like Amy & Frank had
She asked me if I could build a house
Like Frank had built.

After four days and four nights
Mountain Chief returned with Moon Cow
And directly summoned me
And the other elders of the tribe
Into a gathering
He told us everything that had been talked about
How the other Chiefs didn’t trust
The U.S. Army men
That they threatened our whole way of life
And that if they got their way
It would be the end of us
He told us of visions he had listened to
And told us of his own vision
He himself had had one night
While camped along the river
He told us he had seen an owl
And had walked closer to ask him
What he was going to do
And the owl had told him
That when he sees the mouse
He then plans his action
In the middle of the night.

Mountain Chief told us that we would stay for two more days
On their traditional winter grounds
And that we would be moving
In the middle of the second night
So we all returned to our teepees
To begin preparation.

part XXIX

Moon at Midnight – Part XVI (day 1990)

part XV

Every day I would wake to Moon Cow
Cooking eggs he had found
The air outside was still holding on to summer
But one knew it was going to be changing soon
And the comfort of the heat was welcome
Moon Cow would always smile
And comment on my inability to get alerted
By sounds in the night
He’d say: “Did you hear the wolves last night?”
Or something similar
And of course I hadn’t heard a thing
Comfortable as I was.

I learned Moon Cow’s niece
Was named Lily River
But I affectionately called her Little Arrow
One day I was sitting cross legged on the ground
And she pulled Moon Cow over to me
They both sat down joining me by the brook
And asked him to ask me for her
“What is this name you call me?”
I explained what Little Arrow was
Pulling out the little arrow I now kept in my breastpocket
She smiled and blushed
And I pulled at a tuft of grass
Tossing it playfully at her
Moon Cow just laughed.

The day after I had the meeting with Mountain Chief
He left with seven men riding with him
To where, I could not know
And Moon Cow just shrugged his shoulders
So I didn’t pry too much
I asked Moon Cow if he thought
We could take two horses and give
Amy, Frank and Clarinet a visit
I suggested we take Lily River with us
To meet Clarinet, and he agreed
So we set off for a full day of touring
Bareback, on three horses.

Frank met us at the front door
Amy in the kitchen busy with bread
And Clarinet always close beside her
I don’t think Frank recognized me
But he knew the horses and looked a bit worried
Once he saw me his furrowed brow
Turned into the widest grin
And he laughed his friendly and warm laugh:
“Amy, guess who just rode up?!”
We dismounted and gave our greetings and gifts
And introduced Clarinet to Lily River.

Neither could talk to each other much
But I knew Clarinet had respect for the Native child
As I had hoped, knowing Amy and Frank,
And that made me smile
For the Native folks of this land
Sometimes didn’t get the respect they deserved
As humans sharing the land
With Europeans and their firesticks
Clarinet wasn’t a shy kid
And a bit to my surprise
Lily enjoyed some of the little games
Clarinet made her play around the house.

We enjoyed fresh bread
As I told Frank and Amy about my story
Of first meeting Mountain Chief
And everybody laughed when I told them
How he had known their jerky by smell!
With this, Frank pulled a few sticks for us
And we sat their drinking tea and nibbling on jerky
Enjoying each other’s company.

I asked Frank if he needed any help
While he had two extra men around
And he put us to work for a few hours
Lifting bales of hay up into his hay loft
And walking a few of his ditches with him
Clearing branches that had fallen
We enjoyed the light work and helping.

Amy made us an early meal
Of boiled potatoes, carrots, saurkraut
And a few more preserves
I kept almost laughing looking at Lily
Who was looking at the food
And not really knowing what to do with it
Never having eaten with utensils before
But she was a quick learner
And she copied us quickly.

We made it home by dusk
Lily’s mother, Wild Willow, was happy to see her home
She was beautiful,
And I could only smile when I saw her
I could tell she had been a bit worried
But Moon Cow just laughed it off
I’m not sure why I didn’t take Frank
Up on his offer again
For me to stay with them
Except that I liked learning the way of life
The Blackfoot kept,
They were also family now
But I did promise to return
Before the Winter came.

part XVII

Moon at Midnight – Part XI (day 1985)

(part X)

When we chopped the last block ceremoniously
I told Frank that I would be leaving the next day
His face immediately showed me
How much he had also grown fond of my presence
But we both knew that any longer
And my presence in the little house
Would be too well felt
And each day departing would be harder and harder
Though I suspect he knew less of this then I
For he wasn’t much of a wandering man
As I had become in these days.
He initially put up a fight
Talking about the oncoming Winter
And for me to be reasonable
I smiled through it all, and remained firm.

Amy made me a lunch pack
With enough dried meat and fruits
To last me a few weeks
I was eternally grateful to these kind folks
Embracing me, a wandering stranger,
Who came upon their doorstep one clear day
With open hands and a smile.

When I was at the edge of the forest
I stopped and turned back and waved
And they all waved back at me
Amy, Frank, Clarinet, and one of the dogs even barked
I had left Clarinet an old photograph
I carried in my breast-pocket
For her to remember me by
I gave in to my desire to turn around and wave
As I could feel them all hoping and wishing
And watching for me to do so,
A friendly and nurturing gesture I could admit
I walked most of the morning silently
East.

part XII

20151027-mt-fromme-ned-tobin-66

Moon at Midnight – Part VIII (day 1982)

(part VII)

I helped Amy and Frank chop wood for five days
In exchange for…
Well, I guess it would be food and board
But I was mostly staying for the company
As they were both such enjoyable humans to be around
And their two lazy dogs, Rudd and Jip,
That I still don’t understand why
They weren’t the first to greet me
And Claire, who I nicknamed Clarinet
On account of my sweet mother’s favorite instrument
Who was the child I had heard Amy speaking to
Upon my arrival.

They came from the South
Frank’s old man was a cattle baron down there
Whose ruthless ways, along with his two brothers
Had driven his kind heart out of there
Before he found himself crazy
Kind enough to send him off with
His share of the ranch, though
Amy was his sweetheart
And probably had a lot to do with his tenderness
Having been in love since they were thirteen
Holding hands in the pews at the Sunday sermons.

Amy was the only daughter of the towns only Doctor
She was tall and kind
And treated everything she came in contact with
As if it were the most precious thing around
Yet balanced it with just the right amount of sternness
That kept any good family working smoothly
Her parents missed her dearly
And came to visit once a year after the thaw
To check on the health of the family.

Had I set my heart out to build a more perfect house
I don’t think I’d have been able to
The patio afforded a view
Stretching out in front of the house
Down the meadow to the small stream
At the far end
The exterior had board and batten
Of pine that Frank had meticulously fired
Into a most beautiful looking color
Inside, Amy’s oven was perfectly stoked
To afford just enough heat to boil a pot of tea
But not enough to break a sweat
Which sat on the kitchen side of the middle of the main room
And on the far side were two rooms
One for Amy & Frank
And the other for their planned family
That currently was filled with household items
Amy needed close at hand
A sturdy table Frank had built
One met on the right just as they entered the house
And to the left upon the wall
Was where shoes were left and coats hung
And following along was storage
And more chairs to see to it
That no guest was left standing at the door.

part IX

A Dream (day 1689)

I hung onto raindrops
That caressed a blurry,
Single paned window
Sitting empty in a dusty house,
Too tall for company.
I flicked white paint
Peeling along the border,
Imagining my memory
Washed away by a doorbell
That signalled good news.
Of course, a dream
Only dreams,
For never has a swan been seen
Basking among scarred lands:
Desolate trees with
Children’s toys scattered,
Left behind in a moments rush
Towards a meaning to all this silence.