Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Lesson

image borrowed from bing

The Lesson

“It is a beggar’s pride that he is not a thief.”
----Japanese proverb.

He chose to live alone,
building his hogan on an exposed ridge,
where he could enjoy creating humungous bonfires
and have a panoramic view of the night sky. 

It was the time of Rityok,
when Winter was nearly exhausted,
but far from spent, as one night
it raised a ruckus because it could,

filling the darkness with a terrible howling,
tinged with tiotypen thunder, crackling
like dropping boulders on dinosaur eggs,
piercing the thick Swaboll hides that were
stretched tight over the pine spines
of his structure, rolling relentlessly
like a runaway herd of corsores,
heads down, blindly trampling
everything in their shaggy path.

At midnight the elder Tribiluk,
had a belly full of the roaring
as he stepped outside, grateful to be wearing
triple-thick branak hides--as swarms
of indifferent hail pellets pounded at his body,
chilling him to the bone, standing tall
and shivering in Winter’s maw.

“I am Votok,”  he yelled, his voice sounding tiny,
“As Shaman I demand that you cease this onslaught
so that I may sleep!”

You are nothing, not worthy of notice, less
than a flyspeck beneath my wrath,”
moaned the wild wind through frozen teeth,
sending bevies of ice slivers to stab at his face;

“Never forget that I am the god of wind,
the master of storms, and I will
have my way with you!”

followed by blinding flashes of branch lightning
and deafening peals of thunder
that sounded like cruel laughter.

The old man sank to his knees, bowing deeply,
his three condor feathers bending back flat,
his colorful ribbons being pasted wetly
to his hunched shoulders. 

He fled back to his ring of stones,
to his small evening fire, pulling
the thick mountain sheepskin blankets
up to his dark angry eyes,
his arms cramping from clenched fists,

and was not aware of just when he had slipped
off to sleep, after the wind had become merely
a song and his futility had ebbed.

Glenn Buttkus

June 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poet Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Brian Miller said...

whew...this has the strong feel of myth man...the knowing of ones place in the universe...ha....the elements we will never fully harness...and should never become comfortable thinking we have or we will be humble....smiles.

Claudia said... the little touches...the panoramic night sky view...the nearly exhausted winter..and the encounter with the

Björn said...

What a vivid description of man's futility against nature.. The dialogue between the shaman and the wind says it all... The Navajo touch made it all the better (at least I assume it was)

Fred Rutherford said...

love how you used myth and storytelling to frame the theme. Amazing read Glenn, thanks.

Anonymous said...

... what a story. the vividness you created is outstanding - had me glued to the screen. loved the voice of the wind and his 'frozen teeth', beautifully crafted.

Laurie Kolp said...

Yes, the winter wind can sometimes be a bully, can't it?

Victoria said...

Glen, just wonderful. I love anything related to Native American lore/myth/ much wisdom that can change our lives. And what a face-makes me want to paint it.

Heaven said...

Indeed nature is a stronger one, a master to our own feeble words ~ Enjoyed the quote and story Glenn ~

Sam Edge said...

Great narrative Wow> I can't believe you just whip that up in a day. That's a weeks work for me :) Great work.

seasideautho said...

Amazing descriptions I could just envision his clenched fists as my jaws clenched for him. Geez...Well done...

Anonymous said...

So vivid and tactile, Glenn, really well done.

Anonymous said...

You really took me back to my first reading of The Gunslinger by Steven King and meeting the darkman for the first time. I think I've been a bit scared of him ever since. Strong, powerful, and yes, nature will whup us all one day. I'm surprised she hasn't already to be fair!

Anonymous said...

wonderful imagery. powerful.

Truedessa said...

This was a very powerful journey of a shaman
who understands the forces of nature and his
purpose..choosing to take in the panoramic view
from a high point. This moved me in a deep way..
Thank you for capturing an amazing quest.

Margaret said...

Nature is a perfect contrast here to man's ego!

Anonymous said...

Loved the vastness and the scope of your tale - the shamans rant against the storm was just beautiful - K