But did he find the tribe

spat out of rock

below the cousin clouds

with sounding conch shells

between their ears?

They feed on everything:

metals, birdsong, saffron,

until what’s out and in

seem twin and one

like the dance of  lesser

and greater dreamtime.

Social as termites,

they raise tower upon

tower, projecting

a blind, spiral god;

vicious as hornets,

they cultivate venoms and

enemies to die of them.

There’s less blood

painting and head polo

than their fathers knew.

Customs evolve as

killing grows easier.

They’d almost rather

track evil spirits

to their inmost cells,

corner them in forests.

Their stories tell both

of gates and pits,

how one can seem

much like the other.

Armed with a language

they speak forward slowly,

liable to lies

and misconstructions,

tending at times

toward the grotesque,

but hopeful at last

of their waiting name.


by James Fowler


James Fowler teaches literature at the University of Central Arkansas. His poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry Quarterly, Rockhurst Review, The Hot Air Quarterly, Amoskeag, and Parting Gifts.

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