The Way of Power
Prologue: 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 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 frail bird
caught in a high wind.
What is left for me
is to die quietly
because my stupidity made a bid noise.
This is what I know
Part i: Power Corrupts
The Wild Dog
Mind resists the orderly,
thinks freedom is in thinking
any thought it wishes.
Like a wild dog who has felt the whip,
the mind snarls
at the hand that tames it, resists
the collar of Attention, strains
at the leash of meditation, claws
and runs to avoid discipline.
A wild dog can be tamed by the whip
but it will turn on you and
at the first chance, run for it;
it will never be good company.
It may hunt but
it will mangle the bird.
Better the dog who by gentle patience
is shown the way over and over.
That dog will one day lick your hand,
will be devoted to you and serve
at quiet command, will lay down
its life at your feet
and when it fetches the bird
no feather will be ruffled,
no toothmark upon the flesh.
The Champions Are Dead
We live in an age when
the dim souls are ascending to
the highest offices, they are
becoming the rulers and this is
what the Sages call a Dark Age.
The worst thing you can have
in a time like this is real talent.
The first thing the dim souls do
when they get power is ferret out
those who shine and they
line them up along a wall
and shoot them.
But they always save one for a trial,
put it on TV so everyone can see and
when the conviction comes down they
hang him in public where it will be
seen and known what is acceptable
and what cannot be allowed.
Once the champions are dead
you get an age like ours which the Sages
call a Dark Age, where the poets
are official and speak in the voice
of their masters and when their masters
are universities and the universities are
owned by the state and the state is run
by the dim souls who have ascended to
the highest offices then you have
what the Sages call a Dark Age
and woe, woe unto you whose
light shines brightly for you
will be persecuted and your
brief candle extinguished.
Richard Nixon's Funeral
The dirty schemning little crook is dead
and they are lined up before the cameras
to praise him, who once vilified him.
He got his start by telling vicious lies
about Helen Douglas, a good woman,
hinting she was a communist, and he
never stopped as long as he lived.
A corrupt contemptible coward,
a darkly paranoid madman, a consort
of Joe McCarthy's and Roy Cohn's, he
lied his way to the highest offices and now
they can't say enough about him.
The funeral motorcade is blocks long.
There is a law in politics:
the greater the fool,
the longer the motorcade
and the deeper they shovel the praise.
What They Did To Sitting Bull
Lured into the fort by promise
of meat for his people, they meant to
murder him for the Ghost Dance
and because he was a power they
could not understand or tame,
sho they did.
They shot and shot him until
he fell in the snow like a sack
of wet corn meal and the blood
ran out of him like the cry
of a lone Crow in an empty sky.
Then they quartered the body,
hacked it into 4 pieces
with an axe,
thinking this would keep him
from coming back and put an end
to his power.
Because they had not understanding,
they could not know
it increased his power 4 times,
sent him in the 4 directions and
opened 4 doors into the the starry worlds.
You can fool a straving dog with
the promise of meat, but
a man of real power will
eat your heart and relish
every lie and frail conceit;
he will feast on your weakness
and for every one you kill,
4 will come seeking your unborn children
and they will carve them from your loins and
they will carry them away
and feed them in the empty sky
for the meat which was promised him.
He held the Alfred Hodder Fellowship in the Humanities at Princeton University for the School year 1991-92. His first book, Journey of the Medicine Man , was a finalist for the Walt Whitman award of the Academy of American Poets. His second , The Sioux Dog Dance , was the runner-up for the Paterson Poetry Prize and was nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
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