Tlingit Tribe, Robin Ray

Amy Casey, Glow, 2012, Acrylic on Paper, 15.25″ X 12″


Tlingit Tribe


Here comes the trout people, the balding mayor
sneers, his customary derogatory flair as natives

on a goodwill mission from a Tlingit tribe tote
their canoes to the shore, absent kettledrums.

Maybe they’ll dance the two-step and flood
my arid wheat fields if they’re drunk enough.

My heart is mourning. Some townsfolk laugh
at the gibe, the rest cry, regretting, The election
can’t come soon enough.

Somewhere, a cemetery crackles with anger.
A code talker laments his death was for nothing.

The tribal leader warns, Absurd is the fool who
threatens tomorrow from the incontinence of

While his daughters busy themselves mashing
corn into pone, his son sharpens an axe, waits.

Robin Ray


Review by Alan Gold

I met a young Tlingit man last year
He was an eagle engaged to a raven.
Well-adapted to flying through life as a tour guide.
He danced the two-step through his monologue
Which does not seem all that absurd when you are standing on a stunning mountainside above the water, awaiting your wildflower tea.

I wanted to smirk a little at the poet’s closing line:
his son sharpens an axe, waits.”
It’s as predictable a trope as any cowboy movie could muster
But even as my scalp tingles theatrically,
I remember something else about that trip to Alaska.
Enormous ravens in Juneau, perched on poles and rooftops, watching us carefully.
Taking notes.

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