HAIKU A HOUSE BURNS DOWN

 

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A house has burned down

But the fireplace remains

Above the ashes.

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CHICA BRAVA

  Great-Basin-Rifle-in-situ CONTRAST 1-TRIANGLE-1

CHICA BRAVA

When I read that a weathered 132-year-old Winchester repeating rifle had been discovered propped up against a juniper tree, just as it had been left when it was abandoned, I wrote to the archaeologist, Eva Jensen, who had come upon the rifle, telling her a story passed down as told to my grandfather.

 

– Nanten Guerrero, February 2015

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        I followed her a thousand miles.  She was the last of Geronimo’s renegade raiders.  The Mexicans had begun to call her Chica Brava.

        I am Bedonkohe Apache like Geronimo.  The White Eyes called me Sergeant Skippy.  I had become one of their scouts to keep what remained of my freedom.  I was not ashamed.  There was nothing left to die for.

        Except for the one the Mexicans called Chica Brava.

        In the beginning, when Colonel José María Carrasco had killed the young Geronimo’s family, the Mexicans also had killed the medicine man Ba’cho.  Ba’cho had claimed an orphan girl as his apprentice.  Ba’cho devilishly had named the girl Golízhi Mushka (Skunk Pussy) but Skunk Pussy survived Carrasco’s raid and she became a vicious warrior in Geronimo’s decades of revenge.

        At first I wanted Skunk Pussy for my wife but she mocked me.  She wanted Canwakan, a better warrior.  One night she sat on my face as I slept.  When I cried awake the others laughed at me.  She said she had cast a love spell on me.

        In 1880 the Mexicans killed half of our band at the Battle of Tres Castillos and took many prisoners for slaves.

        I fought beside Geronimo in the revenge taken at Chocolate Pass two years later.  A Mexican commander from that Battle of Tres Castillos, Juan Mata Ortiz, was stationed at the garrison of the town of Galena with twenty soldiers.

        Skunk Pussy had the idea to sneak into town and steal horses, knowing the garrison would give chase.  She led the raid.

        We ambushed the Mexicans outside the town at Chocolate Pass.  Geronimo had told us not to kill Ortiz.  The Mexicans realized that they were surrounded and took the high ground to hope for reinforcements I am sure.  We picked them off one by one.  Skunk Pussy fought with only a knife.  She sneaked in and out of the wide Mexican skirmish line, silently killing.

        Finally there was left only Ortiz and one other soldier.  We allowed the soldier to escape after he was made to witness the terrible vengeance taken upon Ortiz.

        Canwakan, the better warrior that Skunk Pussy had wanted, had been killed in the fight.  They gave to her his rifle.

        It was Skunk Pussy’s idea to burn Ortiz alive in a pit.  It was she, not Geronimo, who said, “No bullet, no arrow, no lance, but fire.”

        Years after that I negotiated my surrender and I agreed to help hunt the remains of Geronimo’s band.

        I followed Skunk Pussy north a thousand miles.  I finally had become long separated from the troops I was guiding.  Skunk Pussy had shot at me in ambush several times.  At night I slept upon my horse so she could not surprise me without alerting my nervous horse.

        Once I dreamed that she sat on my face and pulled me into her body.  I awoke and startled my horse who nearly cast me off.  I heard coyotes laughing.

        At last one day I came upon Canawakan’s rifle placed carefully against a tree.  I took cover and I searched nervously for Skunk Pussy.

        It was there that I lost her trail.

        I did not touch Canawakan’s rifle.

        I camped there with a strange melancholy.  I had no desire to go forward or back.  I had no purpose.

        That night I saw a coyote outside my campfire light watching me.  My horse became agitated.

        Suddenly Skunk Pussy appeared into the light of my campfire.  I was paralyzed: I was afraid, I was glad to see her, and I did not care if she killed me.

        Skunk Pussy laughed, “I told you that I cast a love spell on you.”

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        And so, my beautiful grandchildren, I tell you this story to warn you that you must never disobey your grandmother again.

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VOX CANINA: the dog’s tale

dog's tale

VOX CANINA: the dog’s tale

        “Rrrr,” I am the Voice of Dog.

        My Master, Abbot Audenarde, becomes detached from the monastery and my life.  He digresses into death, vanishing, cut-off, concealed.  Dirt gulps him down.

        Abundant missing overflows.

        “Rrrr-Oooo,” to use abusive language and to inflame fierce bitterness.

        There follows a gloomy Mass to find pleasure in such a taking-away.

        Bearing affliction, discouraged, I adhere.  Adapt.

        “Rrrr-Oooo,” I accuse.

        At any time, please, someone else nourish, cherish me as did Master, Abbot Audenarde.  Commit to be near.  I would be indebted to receive a claim.

        The fawning young Monk Brabant is kindled to come and reach toward me.  He is ill with a constricted heart, scarcely brazen with favorable atmosphere.

        The summer tide of heat is without end.  Monk Brabant farms his acre field, a vineyard planted with trees.  He attacks knowledge with bitterness as we walk, “My father’s sister sent away the maidservant that I was fond of, that I cherished, that I loved.  It was not infatuation.  It was passion.

        Andegavense, my true angel: You have a niche in my constricted heart.  I could not turn the mind of my father’s sister.  She could not perceive the heart of you, my Andegavense, your vivacity, your spirit, your intellect.

        I was a goose.  A poor goose.  In place of you I had to put God.”

        Monk Brabant receives a notice sent by the Higher Tribunal.  He is summoned to approach the Altar.

        Monk Brabant is in the presence of the spider’s web behind the Altar.  Abbot Auxerre holds a money box, a coffin for silver.

        Abbot Auxerre asks Monk Brabant to fetch silver money to provide arms for the Crusade, instructing, “Plow skillfully the castle of Landlord Berlaimont.  He is rough and harsh to gaze at but take away with flattery silver or divert his avarice by removing gold.  Thus will you aid God.”

        Monk Brabant is like a pall-bearer with this burden of the money box.  Stammering, stuttering, fumbling he gives a dull kiss to the whiskers of the war-like Landlord Berlaimont.

        Monk Brabant then blesses with zeal Clois the daughter of Landlord Berlaimont.  Clois in silence listens.  Monk Brabant does not need to coax the alluring blandishments and charm from Clois.

        The beast Landlord Berlaimont quaffs twice a pail of strong drink.  He imbibes the flattery and accepts the fawning caresses of Monk Brabant.

        Like an ox the attention of Landlord Berlaimont is brief.  In brevity it plummets as Monk Brabant concludes, “God, Dweller in Heaven, looks down upon calamity, misfortune, and disaster.  The Crusade falters, trampled upon.  My Landlord, one as cunningly clever and subtly sly as yourself can hear the bell sing.  Seize the attack!  Comprehend the corruption and decay.”

        Landlord Berlaimont hearkens with a golden ear and says, “My great-great-great grandfather was dark with a cruelty that eroded his authority.  The privilege of benevolence I well better favor.  I kindly and generously will not allow Our Dweller in Heaven to topple and plummet from the sky.  If charity, a pebble of gold plucked or a stone of silver seized, happens to give ground to the Holy Attic, then swiftly I decide to separate from me a centum of gold and silver.  Clois?  See that this is so resolved.”

        Then Landlord Berlaimont falls headlong onto the table, assuredly to ruminate in the cloister beneath the hair of his head.

        Clois has been entrusted and she courteously escorts Monk Brabant hand to hand.

        Landlord Berlaimont abruptly sits up and drunkenly plucks his bow and sings himself a poem.

Dear beloved,

You are brought to naught,

Made void by fortune’s fetters

        Clois circumvents her father and chastely undertakes that which to herself is entrusted, to furnish opportunity and to serve God.

        Clois asserts, “I shall bestrew your purpose with silver and gold to restrain the ravishers and the corrupters,”

        Clois and Monk Brabant hold together and touch closely.  They continue uninterrupted, composed shaking and trembling.

        Clois leads Monk Brabant to her bed-chamber, saying, “I shall fill up your money box with silver and gold.  In this pact put together by my father, with what will God fill up my own capacity?”

        Monk Brabant stands firm.  Clois stitches their lips together

        I am left outside to protect and defend as Clois hurls closed the bedroom chamber door.

        They are taking an oath together.  I hear Monk Brabant praise God multiple times loudly.  I hear Clois sing an ascendant hymn.  They sow their obligations together copiously.

        Then I hear.

        Monk Brabant says, “To whom do you give it?”

        Clois says, “To he who is great.”

        Monk Brabant says, “Whose virtues are many?”

        Clois says, “To he who tends my chaste cradle.”

        Monk Brabant says, “A nest for young birds.”

       Clois says, “Oh, oh, place your eggs upon my nest.  We are morally bound…”

        Monk Brabant says, “To purge our souls…”

        And I hear Monk Brabant discharge his duty before he exclaims to God and declares his own death.

        I cannot endure another gloomy Mass to find pleasure in a taking-away.

        And so I am departing the castle of Landlord Berlaimont, I am abstaining the abbey of Monk Brabant, and thus I secede in a journey to find a life apart from nobles and monks.

        So, help me Dog.

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But, the most ancient scrolls are kept on: THE TABLE OF MALCONTENTS