The Prisoner’s Song

       *     *

       *     *

       The
               third
          arrow flew
                           upward
                    and stuck

       we rode back

           sun birds
                      bedeviled
          the great stem
       its reflected
                           words

            fast thunder
         hills
       a molten
                      mass
       small clouds
                  of stones
                      green rushes
       waylaid
                     spirits onto
       lava beds

                      post removed
              stone broken

                     face turned
           down
       to earth

       *    *

       *    *

I dropped out

the little hangnail
blanket of a
                     door

        sun strapped
        to my back

so everyone could feel

I was sinking

       *    *

       *    *

I dried out

            woke up

sprouted wings

            and flew away

       *    *

                    Looking Glass is dead
                    The circular blue paper is the sky
                    We see some green spots which are pleasing
                    Are the commissioners clear as I am?
                    I gave them a blue flag which they pretended to cherish
                    I live in hopes I do not have two hearts
                    The Illinois River will rise
                    A single warrior to write beyond without me
                    Death at the hands of the long guns
                    Did I say death? Or the springs are drying up?
                    Find the break where blood runs clear
                    Through the love you bear your gallant little band


       *    *

         “Not to reverse history
            but to draw out the strength” *


Write in the corridor
to be no speaking
Sing in the hall
to be no dancing
Cry in the street
to be no leading
Break into the house
to be no sleeping
Feel in the closet
to be no running
Fight in the dome
to be no screaming
Lie down in the dark
to be no changing

       *    *
 

Are the commissioners clear as I am? The dampness of night pierces my shield. Two dead men push a stick through my buttonhole. The sun looks down on me as complete. I want you to look and smile — red with iron black. With all of my heart I thank my black-robed friends for their kindness. Columns of steel rise. I was glad to hear the black robes had given you this shimmer of elongated nights, left to waver in the void. They know how to die in battle. They are a twist in the black mirror, that river between the city and the mist. We will produce no sane men again. They come back different and the same. They roam over hills and plains and wish the heavens would fall. You issued the first soldiers and we only answered back, seeking air. I have sent many words that were drowned along the way. The wind is full of bottles and the air aggressive, a red feather placed into black hair.
 
* Joy Harjo in a 1989 interview with Lewis MacAdams
More Poems by Cedar Sigo