The Namer
Red Hawk was the oldest man I’ve known.
He came that first time to my vision camp
by the Buffalo River.

He made a big limb fall at my feet;
He made a big dog come to my tent like a pup
and befriend me.
          These are very little things, He said,
          just to get the attention of a fool.

Later He made me see what I am
without lies and pretending.
          This is a bigger thing, He said,
          getting a fool to pay attention
          to himself.

Still later I saw how I am little
and live at the Mercy of something big.
That slowed me down and shut me up.
          This is a big thing, He said,
          filling a fool’s attention
          with Mercy.

The last time I saw Him He said,
          You take this name I am wearing.
          It is a big name
          and you will feel its weight.

          It will be a burden and demand
          more than a little man can give.
          This name will change you
          so you walk softly with an open hand
          and see a long way off.
          This is a good name for a little man
          He said.

And He left me
with that.
The Way Of Power
I will tell you how it is with Power.
The Way is hard
and easily lost.

Take me for example.
Once i had a tiny power
no greater than the breath of a bird,
the power to make the words.
But it was more than i could handle.

I was sloppy with it:
spoke too much
and at the wrong times;
used the poems badly
for my own glory.

So the Power was taken away.
Even the breath of a bird
made me vain and arrogant
and i used it to make myself little.

Now i sit still on my porch
and i see how
I am a stupid man
who was made sick
by the bird’s breath.

I am dying of it
because the breath got inside me
before i made myself strong
and now it is blowing me away
like a small bird without strength
caught in a high wind.

What is left for me
is to die quietly
because my stupidity made a big noise.
This is what i know
about Power.