Cibola 99

Shiwanna/Esteban (conclusion)

If they allow me to live
beyond tonight,
what will I become?
Will they let me marry in,
join the priesthood?

Even if they kill me,
they’ll still press me
into service, won’t they?
String my scalp from a pole
for the women to see.
With these black locks
I could unseat
their gods of thunder . . .

A disembodied view of the back
of his own head. The red gambler–
a young man, almost a child,
with the ugliest face imaginable–
snatches it by the hair
& hurls it skyward,
a meteor in reverse.

The gambler glows–
all colors now–& is joined
by what could be his twin:
a pair of flames
cavorting among the viscera.
(Will the Heavenly Father find
this scent to his taste?)

Through the thick black smoke
he watches his dismembered parts
melt down,
each blow of the hammer
releasing sparks
with erratic flight paths,
rising
on butterfly wings:
yellow, blue, scarlet, white,
iridescent, black–

Let the ocean redeem
your inadequate alphabets–

What’s that?
I thought . . . Just a sparrow
awoken by my pacing.
Poor thing, forced to flutter
through the dark in search
of a better roost.
With all the owls about
he’d better be quick . . .

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