Archive for the ‘Project: Pima Road Notebook’ Category

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Pima Road Notebook #7 by Keith Ekiss

01/11/2010

Reclamation

By Keith Ekiss

The landscape needs fewer words—

lexicon of birds dispersed.

Toxic slurry, spoil piles, chloride pools.

There’s a rawness to it, like beaten flesh.

When it’s been filled in and over

a tentative forest takes hold

one unsure of its roots.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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Pima Road Notebook #6 by Keith Ekiss

25/10/2010

Staying Sickness

By Keith Ekiss

If you cause the wrong owl suffering, or disturb

jackrabbit tracks while your wife lies pregnant,

if you eat berries claimed by coyote, a sickness

might take years to surface, blisters swelling

in your child’s mouth. You must hear the songs

while the shaman swings a coyote tail

about the child.

Thus, soft talk before a hunt,

speak obliquely of the quarry. The badger causes

throat sores. Field mouse makes a baby not shit.

The quail hunter uses caution, the eggs

and meat are eaten, but the head’s torn off,

preventing blindness. You can track cottontail,

relishing the boiled ears, even if your wife carries

another child. Surround the rabbit on horseback,

drive it by fire from the brush before a feast.

Settlers will mistake the hollow bones for birds,

so obviously designed for flight.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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Pima Road Notebook #5 by Keith Ekiss

18/10/2010

Calendar Stick

By Keith Ekiss

Owl Ear slashed a stick to record events—

comet, solstice, railroad, birth.

Armies never burned these houses.

No infection blankets, no Gatlings, no treaties.

Bored soldiers ticked off days.

Playing games with the natives, corporals

won the sprints, the Pima the long distance races.

As fast as boys run, they never catch the river.

What’s lost, netting fish with bare hands,

river reeds braided into combs.

What remains, sayings for grief at parting—

Ravens have overwhelmed us.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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Pima Road Notebook #4 by Keith Ekiss

11/10/2010

The Mercy Patrols

By Keith Ekiss

Mormon pilgrims borrowed the river

and never gave it back. There was rain

for winter wheat, nothing in summer

for cotton or melon. New needs: sugar,

currency. Men cut trees to sell—

mesquite forest, once horse-thick

along the Gila, disappeared. If neighbors

only fed their own family, a widow

starved. It wasn’t that long ago.

Children forced east to boarding school

died of winter. The Pima carried

gourd water freely to travelers,

migrants heady with the California rush,

whose children pulled the water out

beneath the Pima’s feet.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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Pima Road Notebook #3 by Keith Ekiss

04/10/2010

Picnic, Scottsdale

By Keith Ekiss

In this spot where sandstone buttes

erode into caves, city founders

laid their picnic. Men and women

overdressed, bowties and bustles,

jars of marmalade, tablecloths

cover the barrenness foretold in scripture,

desert where St. Jerome fasted

from all temptation and tested

his love of God. These were the years

when the Pima began to starve.

The river dammed and drained.

In times of famine, they ate seeds

of roasted quail brush, called edam,

catclaw, pickleweed, saltbush.

Settlers observed the children never begged,

no matter how destitute. Rattlesnakes

were never eaten, even in times

of greatest hunger. Plates of beef,

pickled cabbage, days without work

so rare they photographed the bounty

of fruits that ripened into belief:

God meant what they planted to grow.

Home before nightfall, a woman pities

the Pima girl she hires to sweep the house,

the mistress insisting with Christian effort

you could remove every speck of that dust.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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Pima Road Notebook #2 by Keith Ekiss

27/09/2010

Field Trip

By Keith Ekiss

Outside the tribal museum, the raised flag

of a nation buried within a nation.

Our hand-me-down history book said,

They were like children, naked and afraid.

The timeline revealed when horses arrived,

a wooden cross stood for God

and soldiers. Stone clubs, worn, obsolete,

shaved from mesquite root, resembling

the potato mashers of New England kitchens.

Mulberry bows and arrow quivers tanned

from bobcat skin. Two feathers: hunting,

three feathers: war. The teacher clutched

my fingers in hers, pointed to the signs

I clearly hadn’t thought enough to read:

Hands are not allowed to touch the glass.

Photographs of women crafting baskets,

deeply-wrinkled, patient, smiling faces.

Human figures woven into each, a boy

trapped deep within the spiral of a maze,

lost or at home, I couldn’t say.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ book of poems Pima Road Notebook.

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Pima Road Notebook #1 by Keith Ekiss

20/09/2010

Bullet-Riddled Saguaro

By Keith Ekiss

The body appears diseased. Green

limbs amputated, like photographs

of children in war, mutilated,

burned alive. A body wants to die

but can’t: the roots still draw water.

The shotgun holes could house birds:

elf owl, cactus wren. An easy target,

the man can’t miss. Where one

stops to shoot another shoots,

fingering the trigger, surprised

each time how deeply it stands.

*

New Issues has recently published Keith Ekiss’ first book of poems, Pima Road Notebook. A series of poems from the collection has been selected by the author for The Owls site.