Pre-Columbian Self, Bryan Merck

Judith Nelson, Cadent Strum, 2001, 22X26

A Pre-Columbian Self


I burst through the dense and verdant barrier.
I have something to say. Poisoned darts skeet
past my head. The lopping whir of a stone axe.

Now, I hang with the locals. We snort yopo.
The spirit world is the spirit world is the spirit world.

I will run to the end of myself.
Monkey soup is an acquired taste.

I came here to find a certain discus fish.
The one near the headwaters. Silent, brooding
in holiness, abiding in light, a guarantee of fecundity,
of peace outrageous peace.

There is a sandbar here on which a missionary died,
a stone arrowhead in his heart. His wife and son
yet come to the village

to harvest souls. I am also here for something greater
than pliable women, yopo, drunkeness from a fermented drink
of chewed plantain.

Recovery is a memory of a hard world, of life outside steel
dreams. A way of life. I have brought tobacco.

I wash clothes down by the water. A missionary pilot buzzes over.
He drops me a packet of mail. I am too proud. There is
nothing here after Columbus. These people play at life.

I seek a rare tropical fish. Would it live all the way back to the states?
I have only the best aquarium instincts. Apparatus. Nothing can be
captured unless I find it. I am weak. Nothing can be stolen that
is not first given.

Bryan Merck

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