Moon at Midnight – Part XXXV (day 2009)

(part XXXIV)

Moon Cow, Long Arrow and I went hunting
We were gone for four days and three nights
We went South to try and find the buffalo
But what we found was elk and a moose
They were buffalo people but also reasonable people
So we knew that we had to take the animals that came to us.

We made camp that night and began cutting
I reflected on the beautiful Swiss blade that
Frank had given to me,
Wondering how his summer had gone
How things were in his Valley
By night time we were all covered in blood
But had everything cut that we could use
Leaving mostly just the bones
For the wild coyotes and wolves and ravens
That were always around.

We built a makeshift sleigh
That we took turns pulling in twos
It was hard work
But we were in no rush
And had feasted till our hearts content
The night before
On the fresh meat we had
Moon Cow talked about the buffalo a lot
He worried our people wouldn’t have enough food
And Long Arrow agreed, as always
Grunting in his affirmative way.

I asked if they wanted
To go see Amy & Frank
To hunt at their traditional buffalo run
They reminded me it was no use
Unless we moved back to our traditional winter home
That we had been at last year
I asked why that was a bad idea
And they made me understand they disliked the U.S. Army
And also that Mountain Chief had said
We would stay here now
And they didn’t want to go against him.

When we got back, the women were very happy
We had done so well on our hunt
Smoking began at once
This time I was able to build a smoke house by myself
As Moon Cow built the second one
I was proud when he came over to inspect it
And had nothing to say bad about it
Giving his nod of approval
As he poked at the holes
And casually patched them
With his skilled hands.

I talked to Mountain Chief about Winter
About how he felt his people were prepared
He said he believed everybody had a good hunt
As we looked around and saw all the smoke houses
Filling the camp with mouth watering smells
I asked him if he thought about the buffalo run
And he said: “Of course,” as he pointed to his inner arm
Making a motion of cutting it
Showing me it was in his blood
I could not guess the pain he felt
Not being able to lead his people
Where his people had always gone.

part XXXVI

Moon at Midnight – Part VI (day 1980)

(part V)

As my footsteps changed slope from uphill to downhill
I crested into a new valley
It was a particularly notable valley cresting
For the view I was afforded stretched from tip to bow
At the far end I could see a tail of smoke rising steady
Hovering for some time at the cloud line
Making its ever looming presence felt
As I looked down and stepped between the pebbles
Dodging in and out of the single-path trail I had been following.

My memory floated back to a woman I once had known
A woman whose smile touched the very essence of a man
Changing him instantly to a friend, forever
I had last seen her walking out of the tack store
In preparation to depart with a fresh pack of jerky
And enough rice to keep me a while,
She had asked where I was off to
And I told her what had honestly come to mind
I shared with her my dream of this land
With leaves the size of a horses head
With trees that bled sugar and turned as red as wine
She looked at me and shaked her head
Scolding that all us men ever want is our devil juice
I explained to her it wasn’t so,
She smiled and knew she was scolding the wrong man
I asked her if she would like to join me
An honest man on an honest journey
To a land beyond, to the East
But she had only replied in jest
Saying: “Honey, I’ve got too many mouths to feed.”

I started at a cracking branch
To my left, not 7 meters away,
I looked and staring back at me
Was a moose, hovering way above my head
He was looking straight at me
Antlers standing so tall and proud
Chewing on a tuft of a shrub
That hung down from the left side of his mouth
He snorted softly as he stared at me
Demanding I respect his space
I nodded back, gave a grunt
And quickly scanned the nearby forest
For any signs of a calf around.

My footstep didn’t stop
Rather, they kept along the trail I went
My heart beating loudly in my cool breath
The words of many an elder echoed in my mind:
“Moose are more aggressive then bears.”
I instinctively touched the blade
That rested at my hip
Foolish to think that such a weapon
Could disengage such a large beast so strong
I couldn’t feel the beast charging
Though I looked to check just in case.

I didn’t relax until I was over the next bend
Which didn’t take long to get
The familiar sound of a creek returned to my ears
No longer wise words warning and uncontrolled heartbeat
Echoing through my every breath
I softly observed the old man’s beard
Growing thicker as I descended into the valley below
Moss crawling higher up trunks of the silent giants
Experienced woods folk always say
That the birds will all be silent when there’s a predator around
So the light whistling of the forest’s inhabitants
The unique call of a raven
Calmed my senses once again.

When I reached a small opening
I dipped my hands in and splashed the fresh creek’s water
To my face, to wash the cold sweat that had gathered
I recognized bear droppings
A short distance from where I sat to rest
Looking at least a week old now
No danger for me, at least for the present
But a sign that they are around
And perhaps some tasty berries, too.

part VII

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Turning Outlaw Again (day 1825)

I’m turning outlaw again,
My stinging words will pierce thy soul
And my fists will bleed my wicked ways,
I’ll drink my beer warmer then
My women have ever been.
I’m turning down the next dusty road
Handing over my soft spoken ways
For rowdy bars and snake tattoos
I’ll start to hiss with the devils drink.
I’m turning outlaw again,
My gang will be 20 strong
On an open road,
Our clubhouse filled with naked women
Who have signed their posters on the walls.
Saw toothed barbed wire
Will be our backup guard dog
And strapped in a leather sheath to my hip
Will be the deadliest blade known to man.
I’ll shoot my shotgun out the back door
At empty beer cans from the night before,
And all my cigarette smoke
Will lead me to toke,
Cause baby, I’m turning outlaw again.

Lover’s Call (day 1487)

If I had heard a lover’s call
Way late at night when all was well,
I’d sharpen up my sharpest blade:
To the rescue, enchanted all.

My dear would swoon and share her thoughts:
Deep reverence for all I brought.
Her mind aglow forever more,
Ignition for my dwindling heart.

Could then my peace be eaten up
By scoundrels and necromancers?
Surely all my wisdom been sought
Guard me strongly against such draft.

So here I grow forever more
A lofty place for perched gargoyle,
A view to lay the world away
Into night with a lover’s call.

Harmonizing (day 1027)

For all that I could remember, for all I could ever remember, for all the times that I dusted off my aching knees to build up my power of love that thrust my gold into the clear blue skies; it was all I was, all I cared to be, all I had dreamed of being, all that was allowed to rest – to be the remnants of some hard played game digging into worn parts of my gloves.

For without these delightful glories (curdling my cream and harmonizing my deep south Presbyterian choir) I was merely a soldier. A hard edged, fine tuned, stainless steel blade of America’s finest earth (plus of course the blood, sweat, and rock hard fists heft my direction). Hardly left a consequence upon my check-marked debriefing.

Here I stood in future’s year, inhaling deep to remember what it felt like laying on the freshly mowed grass in the heat of summer, slow moving cars rolling along manicured gravel. An itch, creeping in and lingering a while as momma’s freshly squeezed – and heavily iced – lemonade tinkled around inside a transparent and sweating summer repair.

But now I wasn’t heading here or there. I wasn’t coming or going. I wasn’t even known amongst the squirrels and bluejays and Chester, the neighbor’s dog, had wilting flowers.

You cannot crush what once lived inside a boy. A man can not fall flat and lie upon his back and let these thoughts turn and turn and turn without the understanding of what has come to pass. Much like Tchaikovsky’s flurrying madness, torrent thoughts arrest my secret moments until the uneven dice with blank looking stares roll the number five five times in a row. To end a second chapter but never ending. Never an end. Never to be ended.

Without knowing then, I was knocking at a door I had left without looking back. A door that still had a mesh pane to keep out the flies. A door that creaked and banged shut no matter how slow it was released. A door that acted as the liaison between country folk and their well meaning manner. A door that punctuated my knocking and brought old – as in aging – footsteps squinted hard to recognize the stranger the stood just on the other side.