Michael Chmielecki
The Pedestal

I am troubled by the pedestal.
Carved out of the same rock
as the walls of this cave.  Caught
in the light of the cataract outside
booming and throwing its awful height
to the floor of the stone-broken wash.

Shouldn't something sit upon this stand?
Some rare token, a guarded statue?
Why is it bare but for the liquid
pooling and trilling
on its empty base?

So straight and harsh in foreign angles --
why hasn't nature moved it, calmed it?
How many hands toiled at this thing
to cause it to give me such a feeling
of permeating sentience?

It feels too holy to discard.
Otherwise I would topple it down
and watch the cataract tear it away.
I'd fly back to the States, quite drunk,
and forget I ever touched it.

It waits for my decision...
Eurodium and the Red Man's Nightmare

To be red, they figured, was a disease.

So they come, Eurodium, marching in teams:
With their bloody knives and anxious guns and bursting hearts,
leaden shoulders and sweaty smiles or snowy grimaces,
arm-thick muskets that swell and tremble the lands they pop over,
beady eyes and thick double chins curled like orange peels
they smile that knowing smile, that wicked smile that tells you nothing

but that they deliver, that they are messengers

and you mustn't aim at them as though they were ill-bred,
too dark or too freckled or too summer squash yellowed, or their hair is too black
too red or too kinky, or their god is not your type and their music is not your own.
They say you mustn't aim, though your eye-bags are too heavy
and all you want is sleep and death,
or knowledge you can shovel with your hands for
beneath Earth's aching brow-roots of knotted sweet corn.

These are messengers, they say, your precious few.

So please don't smother the dead in ochre, or polish your arrowheads.
Please don't settle your thighs on the spines of their horses.
Please don't laugh, don't breathe, and don't grind their wheat.
Don't wild up their women; don't steal their techniques...
They've snatched out your hearts, but still your hearts beat.
Candice Rice