Tales Of Trickster: No. 3
Trickster, so life always will have
meaning and there will be more
salmon and trout, ponies and land,
makes himself an invisible fire and visits
the tent of one who’s just fallen,
and slowly burns away flesh from the muscle
and sinew from the bone, the very marrow
boiling away, to see to it that, while
most children are permitted to become
old women and men, and most of the sick
to become whole again, and most of the women
to remain women and most of the men
men, no matter how many tears fall
from the eyes of parents, lovers, daughters and sons,
no matter how deeply the fallen one’s kin gash
their faces, arms and legs,
no matter how many curses and prayers fall
from their lips, all
the dead must stay forever dead.
Tale No. 5:
Trickster Becomes Snake, Smoke, Umbilical Cord
When the daughters of the tribe
come down to the water
to mend nets and wash,
Trickster becomes a long black snake
sinuous in the weedy shallows
wriggling toward their legs,
to make them remember
their husbands and lovers
and run home, hands wild
in their hair, limbs gleaming,
a scream coiling in their throats.
Thus for one more day at least
the nets remain unmended,
the fish untaken.

When the sons of the tribe
go out to the fields to dig
or stalk game in the woods,
Trickster becomes the sinuous smoke
of the cooking fires rising high
above the village, and the scents
of rich loam, mushroom, musk,
to make them remember
their wives and lovers
and go home, clothes tight
around their hips.
Thus for one more day at least
the fields remain unfurrowed,
the deer unfallen.

The daughters and sons of the tribe
come together. Trickster becomes
a hot breeze and enters the tents
to see to it the men become
unyielding as the plow, the arrow,
the women as patient as the net,
pliant as the river. Trickster
shakes the tent poles.
In time, Trickster becomes
a long umbilical cord
joining the women to the new ones.
The midwives enter the tents
and cut him in two.
He dies until the next tale.
Tales Of Trickster:
No. 6, The Gift Of Fire
When Trickster saw that God
fashioned the first woman and man
out of clay with great care,
the pain of his cramped fingers
and the light of squinting eyes,
and that he painted their faces
in his own image
and baked them in his kiln
until they were done
and breathed hot life between their lips,

and when Trickster saw that God
placed them on the teeming earth unclothed
and then sent reckless winds
to snap their limbs
and floods to fill their bellies
with pestilence, and fire to burn away
the insides of bone and breast and lung
and rot their perfect flesh
he had a plan,
and held his sides and laughed,

and Trickster’s laughter
became a tree that came apart in time
to nourish a grove
that came apart in time
to foster a great forest
that grew to cover all the land.
And walking in the forest woman and man
found shelter from the reckless winds, a home,
timber to build boats and weather floods,
and blossoming from seasoned wood, a gift of fire.
Tales Of Trickster: No. 7
Trickster in the days before
he became Trickster
when he was still a young man

left the tent and fire
of his mother and father
and walked out into the desert

to abstain from love, food and words
and meet God and ask
what he should do with his life.

After a week without women
his penis swelled with hurting
large as a rooster.

After three weeks without food
the pain moved up to his belly,
which bloated large as a calf.

After seven weeks without words
the pain moved up to his tongue,
which grew long as a snake.

After nine weeks of only light and dark
the pain moved up behind his eyes,
which blazed like midnight torchlight,

and he saw the face of God, who
shouted at him from inside his head
“Go home. I’ll show you what to do.”

When he walked into the village
he looked for women to have intercourse
with and to prepare him food

and he looked for friends
to speak with, and priests,
to describe to them the face of God

but the people feared his
swollen penis, distended belly,
black tongue, burning eyes,

and ran away. And from that day
Trickster became Trickster
and refused to forgive the people

and to this day they know him as
Adultery and Rape, Famine and Lies,
Hallucination and Mirage.