The clouds have not come
for a year of moons.
Thunder is the sound in our bellies.
The old man who knows medicine,
we impaled on sharp juniper poles.
He brings only vultures and night.
Our corn, our squash, dry
in the fields below the mesa.
Water will not fill the rooms of our dancing.
We have no strength for song.
Our wives have skin like lizards,
Our children grow large in the belly.
We desire more violence, warlike death,
instead we melt, bend over close
to the earth like our corn.
The old man dreams the future like the sun:
dry tombs among the rocks.
Night’s molten stars dance over our cliff village
like countless black horses
their lucid eyes flashing.
Mike Burwell recently retired to Santa Fe after 30 years in Alaska writing environmental impact statements for the Feds and teaching poetry at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His poetry collection Cartography of Water was published by North Shore Press in 2007. He founded the literary journal Cirque in 2009.