Site hosted by Build your free website today!

First World
poetry and short stories of creation, nature, and times of First Man

Yei Tsoh (Crane)
by Gertrude Walters

A Giant
Black Hat
Window Rock
Mother Earth
Yéi tsoh
Tugs at her
Day and night.

I hear
Mother Earth

Her children
Yéi tsoh?

On Holding a Pre-Columbian Clay Figure
by Robert J. Conley

somewhere in old Mexico
centuries ago
this clay was wet and formless
an unknown Indian artist
shaped it in his hands
it dried
he died
& now I hold it in my hands
my thumb fits snugly
in the indentation in back of
the figure's head
where once he pressed with his
& something of his spirit
lingers there
& for an instant
stirs my blood
then slips back in the clay
to stay secure and secretive
and centuries away.

If You Hold a Blue Rock
by Anita Endrezze

If you hold a blue rock to your ear,
you will hear the ancient river
that kept it as its heart,
the dry wind that used it for its tongue,
and the earth that promised it a mouth of fire.

A speckled rock is from the dream
of a galloping appaloosa.
The herd sings its Ceremony of Grass
and their dream-stones fly from their hooves
into the spattered sky.

A black rock has the bear's soul caught
in his last sleep. His song circles
the stone, giving the it illusion
of fur.

All yellow rocks keep the secrets of Owls.
All green rocks are the breath of plants
singing in nightly joy.

A red fist-sized rock is the love
of a man and a woman as their bodies sing
on the grass.

A gray stone is naturally mournful.
It is a word from the common language of the dead.
Keep it. Someday you will understand.

Cherokee Invocation
by Raven Hail


Hisga'ya Galun'lati
Great Father of Earth-People here,
Mighty Owner of Lands and all Waters
Who sends forth the Harvest each year;

Creator of all the Wild Creatures,
The Willow, the Wren and the Bear,
The Master of Thunder and Lightning,
Of the Wind and the Rain and the Air:

Hear me,
Hear my prayer!

Eagle Poem
by Joy Harjo

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear
Can't know except in moments
Steadly growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us.
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.

for white antelope
by Lance Henson

i lift toward the sun
as the wind lifts feather by feather
redtail hawk and crow

my sorrows are circling
they are a bird my relatives hear

as the earth remembers
they will remember

nothing endures
only the earth and sky

The History of Our Mother's Dreams
by MariJo Moore

The deepest part of ourselves
is formed before we are born.
This is when the grandparents
breathe into the dreams of our mothers.

Heavy breaths colored by
yellow black red and white.
Sighing breaths sounding of
poetry singing music and dance.

Falling breaths formed from
birds clouds trees and tears.
Yet we do not know
the history of our mother's dreams.

The colored sounding forming dreams
holding the breaths of our grandparents.
It is time we begin to listen.

Snowy Owl Near Ocean Shores
by Duane Niatum

Storm thought blown south from arctic tundra,
it sits on a stump in an abandoned farmer's field.
Beyond the dunes cattails dance as steady
as the surf, rushing and crashing down the jetty.

It wonders if the spot two hundred feet away
is a meal crawling from mud hole to deer grass.
When half an hour passes and nothing darts
sideways or upwards but its own feathers,
a North Pole creature shows us how to last.

The wind ruffles the hour through his feathers
from crown to claws while he gazes into zeroes
the salt-slick rain. So when a double-rainbow arcs
the sky before us and the owl, we leave
the path accompanied by the storm's white refrain.

Coming Of Light
by Jean Starr

High on the stone arch
I wakened to the cold, the dark, and fear,
And others around me, moaning and shivering.
The brush of fur,
Of feathers, scales, and hardened shell
Against my skin
Made me know
That I was naked to the wind.
I cried out.
Someone answered, and I knew
I am one who cries and who is answered.
There were voices and jostling and movement,
And, almost before I knew,
I was shoved over the edge,
Scrambling down a rope,
Overrun by faster climbers.
Landing, far below, in the mud,
I drank my thirst away,
and, crouched in the mud beside the waters,
I called again,
And heard the sounds of someone,
Pushing, shoving, crawling toward me,
And another, more.
Muddy fingers, trembling, touched my face
As I touched all their faces, weeping.
We formed a circle, arms around each other,
And were warm.
I learned to smile, to laugh then. This is who I am.
Around us, fish found the water, birds their wings.
One especially, a giant of his kind,
Flying low, fanning the mud,
Struck it and scraped it,
Piling it higher and higher.
And some of us crept to the heights.
Something calling to us
To live on high ground.
Yet we were still unsatisfied,
Cold, fearful of the dark,
Though not knowing anything else,
Still, as we knelt together on the height,
Thinking of an opposite to darkness,
Strange powers came forth among us
As we longed for an end to the dark.
It was amazing:
A ball of light burst forth.
How did this come to be? We did not know.
Perhaps our need made us strong.
Perhaps it was not we who made it.
It appeared, that is all we knew,
And light was everywhere,
Light and heat. The creatures began to cry in pain:
It burned, it burned.
There was no escape, no rest in sleep;
It burned through closed eyelids.
And we, on the height in our circle,
Willed it higher, desperately.
Higher it went; our wills- Or something answering our pleas-
Throwing it higher, and again higher, seven time.
And made it move,
Across the stone arch of the sky,
And down, bringing the darkness, once again.
We waited, for a voice on the wind told us
Light would return. Long it seemed we endured, until that dawn.
Light slowly spreading across the sky.
The beautiful mountains rising, row on row,
Waters washing silver on the shore,
Bird-people floating in the air, fish in the waters,
And, one by one,
Each being finding out who he was,
His name and powers.

[Long time ago]
by Leslie Marmon Silko

Long time ago
in the beginning
there were no white people in this world
there was nothing European.
And this world might have gone on like that
except for one thing:
This world was already complete
even without white people.
There was everything
including witchery.

Then it happened.
These witch people got together.
Some came from far far away
across oceans
across mountains.
Some had slanty eyes
others had black skin.
They all got together for a contest
the way people have baseball tournaments nowadays
except this was a contest
in dark things.

So anyway
they all go together
witch people from all directions
witches from all the Pueblos
and all the tribes.
They had Navajo witches there,
some from Hopi, and a few from Zuni.
They were having a witches' conference,
that's what it was
Way up in the lava rock hills
north of Canoncito
they got together
to fool around in caves
with their animal skins.
Fox, badger, bobcat, and wolf
they circled the fire
and on the fourth time
they jumped into that animal's skin.

But this time it wasn't enough
and one of them
maybe Sioux or some Eskimos
started showing off.
"That wasn't anything,
watch this."

The contest started like that.
Then some of them lifted the lids
on their big cooking pots,
calling the rest of them over
to take a look:
dead babies simmering in blood
circles of skull cut away
all the brains sucked out.
Witch medicine
to dry and grind into powder
for new victims.
Others untied skin bundles of disgusting objects:
dark flints, cinders from burning hogans where the
dead lay
Whorls of skin
cut from finger tips
sliced from the penis end and clitoris tip.

Finally there was only one
who hadn't shown off charms or powers.
The witch stood in the shadows beyond the fire
and no one ever knew where this witch came from
which tribe
or if it was a woman or a man.
But the important thing was
this witch didn't show off any dark thunder charcoals
or red ant-hill beads.
This one just told them to listen:
"What I have is a story."

At first they all laughed
but this witch said
go ahead
laugh if you want to
but as I tell the story
it will begin to happen.

Set in motion now
set in motion by our witchery
to work for us.

Caves across the ocean
in caves of dark hills
white skin people
like the belly of a fish
covered with hair.

Then they grow away from the earth
then they grow away from the sun
then they grow away from the plants and animals.
They see no life
When they look
they see only objects.
The world is a dead thing for them
the trees and rivers are not alive
the mountains and stones are not alive.
The deer and the bear are objects
They see no life.
They fear
They fear the world.
They distroy what they fear.
They fear themselves.

The wind will blow them across the ocean
thousands of them in giant boats
swarming like larva
out of a crushed ant hill.

They will carry objects
which can shoot death
faster than the eye can see.

They will kill the things they fear
all the animals
the people will starve.

They will poison the water
they will spin the water away
and there will be drought
the people will starve.

They will fear what they find
They will fear the people
They will kill what they fear.

Entire villages will be wiped out
They will slaughter whole tribes.
Corpses for us
Blood for us
Killing killing killing killing

And those they do not kill
will die anyway
at the destruction they see
at the loss
at the loss of the children
the loss will destroy the rest.

Stolen rivers and mountains
the stolen land will eat their hearts
and jerk their mouths from the Mother.
The people will starve.

They will bring terrible diseases
the people have never known.
Entire tribes will die out
covered with festering sores...
vomiting blood.
Corpses for our work

Set in motion now
set in motion by our witchery
set in motion
to work for us

They will take this world from ocean to ocean
they will turn on each other
they will destroy each other
Up here
in these hills
they will find the rocks,
rocks with veins of green and yellow and black.
They will lay the final pattern with these rocks
they will lay it across the world
and explode everything.

Set in motion now
set in motion
To destroy
To kill
Objects to work for us
objects to act for us
Performing the witchery
for suffering
for torment
for the stillborn
the deformed
the sterile
the dead.

set into motion now
set into motion.

So the other witches said
"Okay you win; you take the prize,
but what you said just now -
it isn't so funny
It doesn't sound so good.
We are doing okay without that kind of thing.
Take it back.
Call that story back."

But the witch just shook its head
at the others in their stinking animal skins, fur
and feathers.
It's already turned loose.
It's already coming.
It can't be called back.

First World Short Stories | First World Quotes | My First World Works

Return to my fire