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Fall 2001, Volume 19.1

Poetry

 

William KelleyPhoto of William Kelley.


William Kelley (A.B., Brown University, A.M. in Irish Studies, Harvard University) has published five novels:
Gemini, The God Hunters, The Tyree Legend, Witness, and The Sweet Summer. His book A Servant of Slaves will be published in 2002. He received an Academy Award for the motion picture Witness in 1986 and is preparing Witness Two with his collaborator, Earl W. Wallace, for production in 2002. Mr. Kelley has taught at Harvard University, San Diego State University, and the USC Film School. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including two best script awards (Gunsmoke) from the Western Writers of America. All of his novels are currently being reissued by I-Universe Press.

 

Gordon Moose

Gordon Moose delivered a cord of lodgepole
          last night,
Coming in unannounced and quietly by way of the
          cattle gate
And throwing the wood into a conical pile next to the
          south brook.

(I like to stack it myself.) His partner, Harris, also
          a Paiute,
Grinned at me when I came out to
          pay up,
One seventy a split cord—a damned
          good price
In Bishop, California, in the middle
          of January.

I watched as they tossed the
          stove-cut
Pieces over their shoulders from
          the back
Of the pick-up truck, and I envied them their covenant with
          the wood.
And while I watched, a small
          epiphany lighted
The cool evening. Gordon turned,
          nodded toward
A two-cord stack of split piñon
          just by.
"Them from the rounds I brought you
          in August?"
I nodded. "Tough wood. Had to split it
          with wedges."
"A bit springy, ain't they?"
          he said.
"More than a bit," I said. "More like
          living bones."
"I got them logs up on Tioga,
          you know.
Downside of the grade where they
          dropped them,
Building the road to Yosemite.
          My people
Lived on piñon nuts, starved on them winter
          to winter.
Probably nuts from them same trees.
          Why not?"

A warrior fiercely caught on a point of
          ancient pain,
Who sold the bones of fire, but not
          the flame.

What Gordon Moose was feeling in those
          piñon staves
Has been felt by many in their
          sacred wood:
Agamemnon, Christ, and Wovoka in his white
          man's box.
And their small screams may still be heard on January nights
          in Bishop.

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