a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Mark B. Hamilton
PADDLING INTO THE PLAINS OF THE LAKOTA
–an adapted kazen
The new month of May
warms junk scattering down a bank
like big questions to ponder.
What is this attachment to rusted and broken things,
to these square white appliances on the hill?
And how easily a day
glances along passing canyons of glass
and corrugated tin:
Like a potato bug walking up my shoelace,
they fascinate with a mask of dots.
Day after day I trace
the shoreline, beavers on shelves of sun
like arched chunks of clay.
Surprised from their naps, they run in dry brush,
dive off the earthen banks like noisy pottery.
And there is jewelry, too,
in the blue sky of a heron’s nest — a treasure
for just lifting the eyes.
Cattle, sheep and horses gather between fenced-off roads
looping between bluffs toward hot, flat and hidden towns.
Wind in the cottonwoods
rumbles like a train, cools the sweated back,
shimmers on the wide river.
And there is wisdom from those cottonwood fires
and frogs just beyond the light to sing it.
Camping low on the river
the gurgling of a snag combing thick grass —
a hand through my hair.
In the morning, the noise of black boxcars overwhelms
as sometimes a thought will seep up, harsh into the mind. (stz brk)
The single best thing
learned all over again—
joy finding the heart.
. . . . .
At Rocky Boy Rez
clean socks on water-worn feet
improve my disposition.
Sensitive to the pebbles on the street, I sit
on a curb as children return home from school.
A Lakota policeman
takes pity, invites me to a family dinner.
Fry bread and stew.
Faces crowd around the table, a ladle within reach,
memories of their voices, smiles and kindness.
I paddle with sunrise.
White pelicans stretching their wings
sleep on calm water.
I am here, too, relaxed back onto the surface,
into the welcoming of my own feathery fire.
Mark B. Hamilton’s work centers increasingly upon the environment, especially along The Lewis and Clark Expedition river route, 1803-1806. Previously published works include: Earth Songs, an award winning chapbook (Panhandler Press, University of West Florida) and Confronting the Basilisk, a volume of lyric poetry (Ball State University Publications). Additionally, he has been the editor-in-chief of two environmental small press magazines: Words On Wilderness and Groundwork: a natural incentive. Recent poems have been accepted in Plainsongs, Ship of Fools, Written River, and Poetry Salzburg Review.