Red River

. . . makes a noisy entry into Texas
like tumbling file cabinets.

Four mountains
Four creeks
Four forts
Four suns
Four seasons
Four nations—Comanche, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho

          *

At Yellow House Canyon
the river turns tight.
Talons skim the water,
waves confirm dawn.

With white sheets tied around their waists
Tonkawa scouts cannibalistically count out
a bag of children’s hands.

Seated in a silver Concho saddle,
Death’s dirty sergeant lights up
his ceremonial breathing leaf.

          *

Where Cache Creek empties into the Red River
is a nerve center of war.
There Velroy fought the gruesome brotherhood:
Blue Corpse, Smallpox, and the Creeper, cruel 300 lb nymphs.
They tried to strip his body of Carbon-14 atoms.

Velroy, knowledgeable in the Flying Crane Technique
of Kung-Fu,
drop-kicked Blue Corpse in the windpipe
simultaneously breaking his neck
in three places.

He tricked The Creeper with his own taboo.
By passing wolf’s milk and tequila
through a hole in an oak tree,
it made The Creeper vomit up his own stomach.
Velroy quickly buried it,
turning him into a tree.

Smallpox challenged Velroy
to a dance-off.
It took place on top of the creek.
While Smallpox was doing a head spin,
Velroy pulled the cardboard out from under him.
Smallpox dropped into the water and drowned.

          *

Snake Woman sits in the deep,
a cinema of silver scales.
Her hair moves like meadow grass in flood water.

          *

Members of the Black Knife Society
crossed the south fork of the river
on horseback in a V-formation.
They possess gear
simultaneously musical and military:
a stretched skin to serve as
both shield and drum,
and a club, sword, or lance
that is also a drumstick.

          *

At the Red River
Ute chief cuts my guitar strings
Ute women love Punk

Sy Hoahwah, “Red River” from Velroy and the Madischie Mafia. Copyright © 2009 by Sy Hoahwah.
Source: Velroy and the Madischie Mafia (West End Press, 2009)
More Poems by Sy Hoahwah