Friday, March 30, 2012

Jerome Rothenberg, "Serpent," A Seneca Journal

In Windsor Pierce’s words
“a monster” (1937) must ‘ve been
200 ft in length
& 5 ft high
with horns
or others “just a huge horned serpent”
when the timber grew there
white men hadn’t come
but lightning from all directions
struck that place
                         The Thunderers
because they hated snakes
were shouting
—their lightnings twisted like a snake
maybe because of it—one heavy serpent
slid down the hill astride a log
while men shot arrows after it
floated as far as Tracy Run
there dug into the earth
& vanished
in the eddy called “deep water”
or “deep hole”
the place called “where the snake slid down”
all when the world was new

*     *     *     *     *

freaks—the Xtian lady calls you—
like sideshow injuns
             can glide along
the earth o you reptilian
gods       you twisted faces       scraping
those turtle bodies
down longhouse floor

*     *     *     *     *

a thousand years
had passed
the serpent would become
a whale

*     *     *     *     *

for the love of the serpent
& of the god
there are such mysterious comings & goings
across so many oceans
the good & the bad are changing places
            as we see in politics
the primary arena where those terms do not
                           could it then be another
thought another dimension surely
it is of the dimensions of the mind
we write today o Salamanca
& who lives where

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