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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    In the Avoidance of Women

    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,
    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go

    After the snows on the next warm day there were the solo hikes along the old logging trails with a lunch of cheese and crackers and ham stuffed into a satchel slung over the shoulder. Where the trails go on the sides of the hills the snow melts and runs down like a clear brook and if you pause to bend down to it you can hear the water going over the rocks and falling onto itself. It’s wet going and sloppy at the low parts but the low parts are where the sun doesn’t come so it’s cooler and the air feels heavier because of the smell of earth and pines.

    Up high along a ridge there is a pond where it’s hot in the afternoon and nice to lay about without a shirt and feel the wind across your chest like it was summer. There are tracks everywhere at the water and you’d even think you heard fish jumping but it would only be snow dropping from the young pines bowed over the edge of the pool. After a while everything would get lazy and hot and sleepy after eating and sketching or writing, and laying down on your back in the grass sleep would come and from way off a shrill whistled note and maybe you dreampt it and maybe you didn’t but it was there in your head and out over the high pines you’d feel something soaring and looking up through the pines you’d know the sky was a pure blue flame where the hawks go.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Dog’s Neck

    The rain intensified around a quarter after five, switching from a light moving vertical mist to a steady heavy drizzle, thus disallowing our pre-dinner stroll down to Lower Lake. Instead, we began in on the wine, noting we were more thirsty than hungry, the three of us admiring in each other our shared propensity for excess. Smiling thinly, but pink with anticipation, Bennet produced a corkscrew, flipped it open, and drove it in slowly, all the while eyeing Stadler and myself.

    “My Uncle Hank had this stuff flown in from Chile for Sarah’s wedding. But of course, we all know she won’t be needing it now. I’ve a whole case of it here behind me.” Bennet handed each of us a cold bottle.

    “If anybody would be in need of a bit,” offered Stadler, fingering the corkscrew, “it would be Slakely.” He looked around for our responses.

    “Slakely shouldn’t touch the stuff,” I said. “Not anymore. Of course, I’m no one to talk, but then I’ve never taken a life due to drink.” Stadler handed me the corkscrew. I centered the corkscrew over the cork and began to turn it.

    “It was purely accidental,” said Bennet, looking up from pouring his wine and breaking in. “He was just playing a bit too rough. One of us should’ve stepped in after Sarah said something. She was practically screaming.”

    “I know,” I said. “I know. She absolutely had a right to, but I have a hard time accepting responsibility for the death, beyond what you said, Bennet, about one of us stepping in.”

    “Say,” asked Stadler, “how long did your sister have Gus, anyway?”

    “Seven years. His whole life,” said Bennet. “Until Slakely broke his neck. Everybody heard it, too.”

    Stadler nodded over his cup. “It’s not doing Slakely any good to keep on denying it, saying that Gus died of a heart attack.”

    The three of us silently drank the wine, wine that was meant to be drunk at a wedding, at a celebration. Instead it was being drunk here at Bennet’s cabin on the lake. It was creek cold at least. Bennet had placed it in a pool in Rose Creek, a thin stream that ran down the mountain from Boulder Lake. Boulder Lake, where we planned to fish and camp the next day, was so named for the seven massive boulders that rimmed its rocky edge. A small lake, only half a mile wide and three-quarter mile long, it was deep and clear and cold, fed by the glaciers above.

    It had been an early Spring tradition for the four of us , including Slakely, to do the climb to Boulder Lake. We’d get roaring drunk there, casting our flies about for trout in the morning after having stayed up around the fire the whole night through. Now it was different. Slakely wasn’t here. It was as if he had been silently and wordlessly banished by the group after having killed Sarah’s dog. Sarah said it was the last straw, that she could no longer stomach Slakely’s drinking and the antics it would bring on. They were going to get married, her and Slakely, but she called it off after the killing. We all felt it was accidental, although we were all well aware of the growing violent streak which marked Slakely’s character, this being the main reason, I felt, why each of us was reluctant to part dog and human, not for fear of an angry dog but a vicious man. Indeed, as we sat around the dimly lit cabin, without Slakely around, things felt awfully good, less tense and edgy.

    Slakely had only fallen in with us a couple years ago, after meeting Bennet’s sister, Sarah, at a political rally. He was quite gung-ho, that one, always flailing his arms around and talking loudly, striking his fist into his palm. He provided a great burst of energy, true, but in the two years we had come to know him, he had come to behave quite strangely. Slakely would often stick out his chest and thump it, saying, “Who’s the mountain? Who’s the mountain?” He became careless with his strength after drinking too much, and he had come to be a constant threat to each of our safety, nearly breaking all our arms in wrestling matches. It had occurred to all of us that this behavior would lead to injury, but when, and to whom? Bennet had often expressed concern for his sister’s safety, but she didn’t let on if there was anything happening, for she was always cheery about their relationship. Perhaps it was better that it was the neck of a dog that was broken, not one of ours, with all that worry going on. Now, there was hard and tangible evidence that Slakely had gone too far, and none of us were slow to acknowledge this.

    Each of us, then, had come to the personal conclusion that we were better off without him, and we were happy to have a reason to spurn him. None of us had had that chance, though, because we never saw him after the killing. He had left the party, still maintaining that no, it had been a heart attack that had killed that dog, not him.

    Bennet broke the silence. “So what do you guys think of the wine?”

    “Damn good,” I said, rising, eager to be in a happier mood. “Now here’s a toast – to the long march of the vine from the coast of South America to the bottoms of our gullets! Here’s to the Chilean grape! Gentlemen, here’s to the three of us! Heads and shoulders bent now, into your cups!”

    After this happy pronouncement, we began to drink without regard, the three of us beginning to feel a bit better, better about ourselves, better about the safety of our little group, better about the hard Montana rain and the cold deep of the high glacial lake, the chill of our wine, and better about the guilt we shared, the truth that not one of us was strong enough to have raised a hand to saved a wrecked life, not Gus’s life, not Sarah’s life, not Slakely’s life, and most preciously, not the life they could have shared together.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

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    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    In the Avoidance of Women

    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,
    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go

    After the snows on the next warm day there were the solo hikes along the old logging trails with a lunch of cheese and crackers and ham stuffed into a satchel slung over the shoulder. Where the trails go on the sides of the hills the snow melts and runs down like a clear brook and if you pause to bend down to it you can hear the water going over the rocks and falling onto itself. It’s wet going and sloppy at the low parts but the low parts are where the sun doesn’t come so it’s cooler and the air feels heavier because of the smell of earth and pines.

    Up high along a ridge there is a pond where it’s hot in the afternoon and nice to lay about without a shirt and feel the wind across your chest like it was summer. There are tracks everywhere at the water and you’d even think you heard fish jumping but it would only be snow dropping from the young pines bowed over the edge of the pool. After a while everything would get lazy and hot and sleepy after eating and sketching or writing, and laying down on your back in the grass sleep would come and from way off a shrill whistled note and maybe you dreampt it and maybe you didn’t but it was there in your head and out over the high pines you’d feel something soaring and looking up through the pines you’d know the sky was a pure blue flame where the hawks go.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Dog’s Neck

    The rain intensified around a quarter after five, switching from a light moving vertical mist to a steady heavy drizzle, thus disallowing our pre-dinner stroll down to Lower Lake. Instead, we began in on the wine, noting we were more thirsty than hungry, the three of us admiring in each other our shared propensity for excess. Smiling thinly, but pink with anticipation, Bennet produced a corkscrew, flipped it open, and drove it in slowly, all the while eyeing Stadler and myself.

    “My Uncle Hank had this stuff flown in from Chile for Sarah’s wedding. But of course, we all know she won’t be needing it now. I’ve a whole case of it here behind me.” Bennet handed each of us a cold bottle.

    “If anybody would be in need of a bit,” offered Stadler, fingering the corkscrew, “it would be Slakely.” He looked around for our responses.

    “Slakely shouldn’t touch the stuff,” I said. “Not anymore. Of course, I’m no one to talk, but then I’ve never taken a life due to drink.” Stadler handed me the corkscrew. I centered the corkscrew over the cork and began to turn it.

    “It was purely accidental,” said Bennet, looking up from pouring his wine and breaking in. “He was just playing a bit too rough. One of us should’ve stepped in after Sarah said something. She was practically screaming.”

    “I know,” I said. “I know. She absolutely had a right to, but I have a hard time accepting responsibility for the death, beyond what you said, Bennet, about one of us stepping in.”

    “Say,” asked Stadler, “how long did your sister have Gus, anyway?”

    “Seven years. His whole life,” said Bennet. “Until Slakely broke his neck. Everybody heard it, too.”

    Stadler nodded over his cup. “It’s not doing Slakely any good to keep on denying it, saying that Gus died of a heart attack.”

    The three of us silently drank the wine, wine that was meant to be drunk at a wedding, at a celebration. Instead it was being drunk here at Bennet’s cabin on the lake. It was creek cold at least. Bennet had placed it in a pool in Rose Creek, a thin stream that ran down the mountain from Boulder Lake. Boulder Lake, where we planned to fish and camp the next day, was so named for the seven massive boulders that rimmed its rocky edge. A small lake, only half a mile wide and three-quarter mile long, it was deep and clear and cold, fed by the glaciers above.

    It had been an early Spring tradition for the four of us , including Slakely, to do the climb to Boulder Lake. We’d get roaring drunk there, casting our flies about for trout in the morning after having stayed up around the fire the whole night through. Now it was different. Slakely wasn’t here. It was as if he had been silently and wordlessly banished by the group after having killed Sarah’s dog. Sarah said it was the last straw, that she could no longer stomach Slakely’s drinking and the antics it would bring on. They were going to get married, her and Slakely, but she called it off after the killing. We all felt it was accidental, although we were all well aware of the growing violent streak which marked Slakely’s character, this being the main reason, I felt, why each of us was reluctant to part dog and human, not for fear of an angry dog but a vicious man. Indeed, as we sat around the dimly lit cabin, without Slakely around, things felt awfully good, less tense and edgy.

    Slakely had only fallen in with us a couple years ago, after meeting Bennet’s sister, Sarah, at a political rally. He was quite gung-ho, that one, always flailing his arms around and talking loudly, striking his fist into his palm. He provided a great burst of energy, true, but in the two years we had come to know him, he had come to behave quite strangely. Slakely would often stick out his chest and thump it, saying, “Who’s the mountain? Who’s the mountain?” He became careless with his strength after drinking too much, and he had come to be a constant threat to each of our safety, nearly breaking all our arms in wrestling matches. It had occurred to all of us that this behavior would lead to injury, but when, and to whom? Bennet had often expressed concern for his sister’s safety, but she didn’t let on if there was anything happening, for she was always cheery about their relationship. Perhaps it was better that it was the neck of a dog that was broken, not one of ours, with all that worry going on. Now, there was hard and tangible evidence that Slakely had gone too far, and none of us were slow to acknowledge this.

    Each of us, then, had come to the personal conclusion that we were better off without him, and we were happy to have a reason to spurn him. None of us had had that chance, though, because we never saw him after the killing. He had left the party, still maintaining that no, it had been a heart attack that had killed that dog, not him.

    Bennet broke the silence. “So what do you guys think of the wine?”

    “Damn good,” I said, rising, eager to be in a happier mood. “Now here’s a toast – to the long march of the vine from the coast of South America to the bottoms of our gullets! Here’s to the Chilean grape! Gentlemen, here’s to the three of us! Heads and shoulders bent now, into your cups!”

    After this happy pronouncement, we began to drink without regard, the three of us beginning to feel a bit better, better about ourselves, better about the safety of our little group, better about the hard Montana rain and the cold deep of the high glacial lake, the chill of our wine, and better about the guilt we shared, the truth that not one of us was strong enough to have raised a hand to saved a wrecked life, not Gus’s life, not Sarah’s life, not Slakely’s life, and most preciously, not the life they could have shared together.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    In the Avoidance of Women

    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,
    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go

    After the snows on the next warm day there were the solo hikes along the old logging trails with a lunch of cheese and crackers and ham stuffed into a satchel slung over the shoulder. Where the trails go on the sides of the hills the snow melts and runs down like a clear brook and if you pause to bend down to it you can hear the water going over the rocks and falling onto itself. It’s wet going and sloppy at the low parts but the low parts are where the sun doesn’t come so it’s cooler and the air feels heavier because of the smell of earth and pines.

    Up high along a ridge there is a pond where it’s hot in the afternoon and nice to lay about without a shirt and feel the wind across your chest like it was summer. There are tracks everywhere at the water and you’d even think you heard fish jumping but it would only be snow dropping from the young pines bowed over the edge of the pool. After a while everything would get lazy and hot and sleepy after eating and sketching or writing, and laying down on your back in the grass sleep would come and from way off a shrill whistled note and maybe you dreampt it and maybe you didn’t but it was there in your head and out over the high pines you’d feel something soaring and looking up through the pines you’d know the sky was a pure blue flame where the hawks go.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    In the Avoidance of Women

    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,
    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go

    After the snows on the next warm day there were the solo hikes along the old logging trails with a lunch of cheese and crackers and ham stuffed into a satchel slung over the shoulder. Where the trails go on the sides of the hills the snow melts and runs down like a clear brook and if you pause to bend down to it you can hear the water going over the rocks and falling onto itself. It’s wet going and sloppy at the low parts but the low parts are where the sun doesn’t come so it’s cooler and the air feels heavier because of the smell of earth and pines.

    Up high along a ridge there is a pond where it’s hot in the afternoon and nice to lay about without a shirt and feel the wind across your chest like it was summer. There are tracks everywhere at the water and you’d even think you heard fish jumping but it would only be snow dropping from the young pines bowed over the edge of the pool. After a while everything would get lazy and hot and sleepy after eating and sketching or writing, and laying down on your back in the grass sleep would come and from way off a shrill whistled note and maybe you dreampt it and maybe you didn’t but it was there in your head and out over the high pines you’d feel something soaring and looking up through the pines you’d know the sky was a pure blue flame where the hawks go.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

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    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    In the Avoidance of Women

    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,
    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go

    After the snows on the next warm day there were the solo hikes along the old logging trails with a lunch of cheese and crackers and ham stuffed into a satchel slung over the shoulder. Where the trails go on the sides of the hills the snow melts and runs down like a clear brook and if you pause to bend down to it you can hear the water going over the rocks and falling onto itself. It’s wet going and sloppy at the low parts but the low parts are where the sun doesn’t come so it’s cooler and the air feels heavier because of the smell of earth and pines.

    Up high along a ridge there is a pond where it’s hot in the afternoon and nice to lay about without a shirt and feel the wind across your chest like it was summer. There are tracks everywhere at the water and you’d even think you heard fish jumping but it would only be snow dropping from the young pines bowed over the edge of the pool. After a while everything would get lazy and hot and sleepy after eating and sketching or writing, and laying down on your back in the grass sleep would come and from way off a shrill whistled note and maybe you dreampt it and maybe you didn’t but it was there in your head and out over the high pines you’d feel something soaring and looking up through the pines you’d know the sky was a pure blue flame where the hawks go.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    In the Avoidance of Women
    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,

    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.


    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    In the Avoidance of Women
    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,

    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    The Barn Where It Was Dry

    Spring was an awful time to be sick about losing a girl, especially after you let yourself get all caught up in it and gave yourself away by letting her get too close inside you where it started to matter what she said or did. It was something that couldn’t be gone back over and fixed so you were there on the edge of the land in the rain sleeping alone in a goddamned barn with the poison hurt of it. But in your pocket there was some money and a ticket back to the reservation at Mescalero even though it made you feel less of a man to be running away from it. The only token from the whole mess of the situation was the scar you carried away that showed you were capable of an emotional investment in somebody other than yourself. Up until then you were too chickenshit to bring anything up from within you that might lay you open to slaughter and yes, you were a fool to open up but you did it because you finally could and you wanted to be loved but were cut down and gored through instead.

    Sometimes when it rained the horses would come up the hill across the meadow to be in the barn where it was dry. You could smell the oats and see the hay spread across the floor of the barn and underfoot the ground was clumpy and uneven with excrement. You hoped the horses would come but they didn’t come. Maybe the rain was not heavy enough. But the rain kept on. The rain kept on and didn’t let up. The horses stayed away.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    In the Avoidance of Women
    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,

    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Pollen Storm Blessing

    There he spurneth dust of glittering grains;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There in mist of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he;
    How joyous his neigh,
    There his offspring many grow and thrive forevermore;
    How joyous his neigh!
    -- from Song of the Horse, Navajo

    Bahe would go to the spring hills to pray against the war. He thought he would attend the war if he had to. He wouldn’t run away from it, even though there was a new woman. With the new woman he had made a child. The child was four months old. He was called Siggy, after Sigurd, the woman’s father. Bahe called the woman Haansh’Taye, which in the Apache means “butterfly.” Her other name was Susie, but Bahe called her Haansh’Taye because he thought of her well shaped hands as delicate wings of the butterfly, and when she held his face between her hands he imagined that this was his only place of brief repose in all the world.

    With the war threatening he spent as much time between there as possible. At night he would cry sometimes about having to leave his woman and son and he would ask her to hold his face between her hands and pray against the war. And she, while comforting him with her good words, would begin to cry as well. Then baby Siggy would wake up and start in too. At times like this when the small room would echo with wailing the air would suddenly become cold and it was ghostly when the air became filled with their own visible breath. The haze of their breathing turned blue like there was a neon light from outside their window shining in but there was none and neither he nor the woman knew anything about the blue haze, only that it frightened them and caused them, all three, to huddle against the terror on the corner on the bed. Everything fell away at such times, the hum of engines and the gears shifting over the streets, the sirens, the horns, the rough voices of the kids on the walk and the drunk rantings of husbands heavy on the bottle, everything, everything fell away into the heavy silence and then it was terribly lonely because they felt like they didn’t even have each other then. Bahe thought that this was the way it would be for his family if the war called him out.

    There were always images that appeared in the blue haze. All the images were of men, brown men like Bahe himself, and young yet with hair like jet. The men would be stripped to the waist, their torsos lithe and tawny and shining with sweat as they danced around to old drums and sang. But neither Haansh’Taye nor Bahe could hear the drums or hear the men singing. There was just that silence. Bahe and his woman would look across that silence at each other and down at the baby like there was a wide and dark blue sea that separated them finally and completely and made communication impossible. They could only cry and watch the men dance. From the waist down they could see that the men wore fatigues and high black boots, army issue. Bahe knew the men. They were his relations, his ancestors, his uncles and great uncles, his grandfathers and his grandfathers’ brothers, all dead, all passed on in other wars. Only when Bahe and his family stopped crying would the images be gone. The haze would dissipate slowly and the room become warm again, like it ought to be on a spring evening.

    So Bahe would go to the hills to pray against the war. He’d take Haansh’Taye with him, and she would place little Siggy into the cradle that Bahe was placed in when he was a baby, and she would strap this onto her back when they struck out onto the trail that led to the meadow where there was a stream and a falls that came down the hills.

    One morning after crying all nigh long Bahe called into work and told them that he couldn’t make it, that he was sick. Then he rolled over and shook Haansh’Taye gently on the shoulder. “Haansh’Taye. It looks nice out there today. Let’s take a lunch and go to the hills.”

    Haansh’Taye rolled over to face Bahe. Little Siggy lay between them. She stroked the baby’s face and looked up at Bahe. “Okay sweetie. Let’s do it. Let’s go. Did you call into work?”

    “I called. I had to lie again, but they wouldn’t understand if I said the truth.”

    “I know, sweets, I know.”

    Baby didn’t wake until they were already in the truck. When he woke he began to cry. Haansh’Taye just placed a breast in his mouth. After a while he became full and yawned and was burped, then placed back into his special seat. The movement of the truck made him sleepy and pretty soon his head fell to one side.

    Haansh’Taye had made for them a dinner of thick sliced cold roast beef along with some fried bread and roasted and peeled green chilis. They also had some coffee and an old percolator which was placed over the fire to heat. All this was placed into the backpack that Bahe carried, as well as a blanket and diapers for Siggy. They never ate breakfast on days they went to pray in the hills and always ate toward the evening when they were finished.

    At the woods it was a warm day, and the sun was out high and strong. There was a breeze, and on the breeze there were fresh scents of pines and grasses and flowers. Bahe and Haansh’Taye got out of the truck and looked across the cab at each other and smiled. Haansh’Taye came around to where Bahe was leaning up against the hood and put her arms around him. She kissed him long and deep and their faces lingered next to each other and brought out new scents of skin against skin. This was a vital time for them, to be together like this in the morning air of the country after such a night as had passed where they each had been gripped and stifled in fear and an insurmountable loneliness that left them feeling they were 10,000 miles apart.

    Bahe and Haansh’Taye had not planned to bear a child together. In fact, they had seen very little of each other after the first few times of love making, and even after Haansh’Taye was into the initial terms of her pregnancy they rarely spoke about establishing a life together. They found it difficult at first; it was a tremendous burden coming to appreciate one another. The love was not there. Only the sex and the anger and the fear. But now, they found themselves to be deeply wed, and the love had come and the baby had come and the commitment had come and then the war came and it all pressed them deeper into one another so they thought they could never be pried apart again. And then with the war came the cold blue hazes and the awful visions.

    Baby Siggy let out a small gurgle from the cab of the truck. Bahe and Haansh’Taye parted with a final kiss and went about preparing for the hike into the woods. This was never a solemn affair for them. There was only joy and a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for life. With the spring there was always life renewed and this was a common bond between Bahe and Haansh’Taye and the land they walked on. Each day after every terrible night their little procession moved along the trail through the woods. They found themselves to be a part of a constant cycle of loss and coming together, of death and rebirth, and it made them feel as if nothing could touch them, that they had been make privy to an eternal secret. Even if Bahe were to go off to the war and die, maybe he wouldn’t really die after all, just go off to some other place to rest before coming back. But still, there were those terrible visions, and they came time and time again. Bahe thought that even if there were an ounce of fear left within him the visions would return again and again and perhaps he would find himself with his ancestors, dancing in the haze. So he prayed to let go of his fear. He prayed to be strong. He prayed against the war.

    At the place where they make their camp near the stream there was a young and sturdy dogwood where Haansh’Taye hung baby Siggy in his cradle. The blossoms were just starting to form on the tree. Haansh’Taye stayed within earshot of the baby while she moved about the area in search of wood for the fire. Bahe went off alone towards to stream where the little waterfall was. He sat on a flat slab of granite which overlooked the small pool of water that the falls fell into. He produced a pouch which held his smoking mixture and from this rolled four cigarettes while making a song.

    In times past when they had come to the hills it had been peaceful and serene but these days it was not so quiet. Fort Leonardrock was nearby and in full swing; all the troops were in heavy rotation. As Bahe smoked he could hear the heavy trucks rattle and heave over the washboard roads that criss-crossed the area they were camped in. The jets screamed around overhead and the explosions went off constantly. Bahe smoked and prayed while all this was going on, almost expecting to see from over the crest of the hill a movement of troops hupping doubletime through the woods. These things didn’t sit well with Bahe, but he felt it important that he place himself there in the midst of wartime preparations where his fear was at its strongest, thereby confronting the greatest looming cloud of his life at the place where it resided.

    At pool’s edge beneath and across the way from where Bahe sat grew a wide ring of cattails. Beyond the cattails at the far edge was the meadow. The meadow sloped gently uphill from the stream bed and there on the hill the grasses waved in the breeze drawing Bahe’s attention gently and slowly and rhythmically so that everything, everything fell away like in the cold blue haze. The trucks, gone. The jets, gone. The explosions, gone. The troops, gone. Everything, gone. But this was no cold blue haze in a tiny room in a corner of the city. Here the canopy rose up high and spread out beneath the sky like a green wing, the tip of which brushed up against the meadow and rested there on the downstroke like the gesture of a mother protecting her young. From here Bahe peered out onto the meadow. He smoked his fourth cigarette. The grasses waved. The wildflowers nodded beneath the fat yellow glory of the afternoon sun and from the spaces between the leaves of the canopy shone the fat glory in wide bright angular beams down onto the edge of the stream on the forest floor. On the beams on the sun there came the pollen from the meadow. Slow, heavy, steady, a pollen storm blessing. Bahe breathed it in, and he breathed it out, smoking.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    In the Avoidance of Women
    I

    Sidebelly had become aware of the moss on his belly
    ever since the time of an early spring
    twenty-six years ago when he was twenty-one years old
    with a lean incisive body moving easily
    through the pines,
    running north,
    as he had been doing without pause for water
    or love
    for six years in avoidance of the assumption of
    responsibility
    he was to take on as a man,
    and what brought him down at the end of his youth
    were the frequent and penetrating thrusts
    of mental daggers being driven through his ear,
    sharply and up to the hilt,
    which upon further examination
    would have proven only to have been
    the thorns of wild roses fashioned into tiny darts
    by the thin and nimble fingers of some
    woman,
    no doubt,
    and he did, finally, break down smoothness of motion
    of wind in hair
    into fractured moments
    of settling vertebrae and sharply distilled
    moments of anxiety,
    for he feared his people were yet on the trail
    behind him.

    They weren't, of course,
    they had failed to pursue five-and-a-half years back
    after he had crossed the River of Separation,
    the women moaning the loss of yet another
    virile partner,
    and he had come to rest slowly trembling,
    driven down pointedly into supine immobility
    by prayers and Wishes designed for his restraint.
    By the Almighty Goddamn
    they had caught up with him after all!
    Hair by hair, finger by finger, toe by toe, cell by cell,
    his breathing came deep
    and the moss below his back gave way.
    He could feel the breath of his bed exhale
    near his ear telling him not to be afraid,
    to rest,
    that he needed rest,
    and he closed his eyes and could feel the moss work
    beneath his back and move up the sides of his belly,
    taking over the responsibility of keeping him alive,
    penetrating through his tissues,
    extending through his veins, capillaries, arteries,
    and enshrouding his heart
    in the timeless revelatory muscle of the earth
    as he slept.

    II

    The terrifying complexity
    of manufacturing a self contained internal reality
    for nine still years spent while saddled motionless
    to the back of the earth on a bed of soft spoken moss,
    of course,
    was not to be undertaken alone.

    But goddamn if the young Sidebelly was willing
    to give up independence of strong, taut
    manhood
    without a fight for sole
    or even partial possession of his tender mind,
    no matter the teachers,
    goddamn them all to hell with the
    fruits and flowers they bring,
    "I have been trying for six years to pound them
    into dust,"
    he told me, "six years to rid myself of their pursuit,
    six years in avoidance of their mouths of
    open and inviting tragedy,
    six years spent hiding from their invasive minds,
    six years working my muscles for prime
    defense against their advancements,
    I knew they would come too,
    starting with Susie, of course,
    goddamn her who kissed me first while pinning me
    up against the wall
    next to the garbage bin in the alley
    behind the furniture store.
    Six years,
    six years,
    goddamn them women, them witches,
    them who spend the earnest moments before
    the rise of the sun caressing,
    oiling, and perfuming their legs and breasts
    with their own juices,
    combing and waiting to plait the magnificent length
    of their hair under the beauty of the
    polished crystal prism of mother’s making,
    designed and crafted for the specific purpose
    of dispersing the first rays of the morning throughout
    the hair in the belief
    that to hold the seven colors of the sun
    was to hold the power necessary to enliven
    the fibers of the hair which in turn,
    when laid upon the pillow at night
    and spread in imitation of the sun,
    would successfully capture and blind a man
    into meek submission of catering days;
    days of heat and labor
    spent under a malignant and difficult sun,
    of strained breath spent through thin and dusty lips,
    of brittle and confused moments
    at the end of the day when conversation
    with the woman
    becomes necessary yet unavoidable and what is truly
    needed is a cold beer
    and an open window to the west –
    a breeze would be too much for me to handle;
    I would go insane in such pleasure of ease-
    and goddamn
    if she wouldn't then inhale the sun
    into her belly at the close of the day,
    swelling deeply
    at the rush of performing
    her daily admonition,
    for she would have been stewing all day in her own
    juices,
    and speaking with the sun between her lips
    of my failure to achieve the potency of manhood
    in a dignified and respectful manner..."

    And of course,
    it was worthless for Sidebelly to struggle,
    dangerous even,
    for he was being wrapped tighter to the back of
    the Mother Earth
    at each impulse of protest,
    pulled in deeper to the Woman of all our fruits,
    and he would eventually learn that to struggle
    would be to relenquish an even greater part
    of his masculinity,
    but he succeeded in the end,

    thankfully,
    in securing a bit of his manhood
    down and away
    in a sack between his legs where they could not
    get at it,
    the witches.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

     

     

     

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    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021

    KEITH JAMES HAINES

    Keith James Haines

    Keith Haines, an enrolled member of the Mescalero Apache tribe of south central New Mexico, was born in 1968 in Farmington, New Mexico to Jodee Yazza and Bruce Haines. When he was five years of age his biological mother passed away. Two years later, his father married Charlotte Hara, a Japanese American from Hawaii.

    Growing up in New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska, and spending a significant amount of time as a youth in Minnesota, Arizona, and Montana, he left home at seventeen after graduating high school to study art and literature at several universities.

    Since leaving the trailer he grew up in, he has traveled extensively throughout the west and mid-west, supporting himself, among various occupations, as laborer, student, cook, pipe maker, ranch-hand, and mill worker. Keith passed away January 28, 2020; yet the legacy of his beautiful spirit through his art and poetry lives on.

     

    horseofthesunlogo

    cbar7

    Welcome. Here you will find several poems and stories I have written over the last several years, the earliest being The Dirt and the Weeds, and the latest, A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go. I am currently at work on a longer fictional piece entitled Horse of the Sun, same as the headline for this website.  In addition, I have included a few pencil sketches of various subjects and plan to add several larger, more fully developed pieces when time and circumstance permit.
     
    Enjoy,
    Keith J. Haines
     

    Poetry

    Hangover Medicine | In the Avoidance of Women | Fall Valley | The Dirt and the Weeds | On the Forest Floor | Amaranths In Dew | Poet Taking Rest | Second Note to a Past Lover | Under a Feeble Sun | This Desperate Threshhold | Nearing the Base of West Mountain | Spring Hills of Missouri | Penning Delicate Words | Summer River Wildflowers | Parched | Sweating at Meremec | Humming in the Wind | Horse Travel Through the Blues | Nectar | The Long Limbed Day | Jaguar Leaping in the Wind | Outrider

    Stories

    Pollen Storm Blessing | The Morning World | The Barn Where It Was Dry | A Pure Blue Flame Where the Hawks Go | Dog's Neck | Games of Chance and Get Even | Waterbug | Seven Colors of the Sun

    Chap Books

    The Barn Where It Was Dry, A Collection of short stories from a contemporary Native American artist
    Drinking With the Women, Poems. Love, despair, and the ultimate joy of passionate living


    The Dirt and the Weeds

    This is my father's room.

    He likes to call it his tiny box of bitter contemplation. 
    It rests here,
    on the five hundredth and third floor 
    of a five hundred and three story building. 

    This blanket is the place where my father sits. 
    All but him are forbidden to rest here. 
    This blanket comes from the time when he lived 
    on the ground below,
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    when he held sway over the broad expanse of this area, 
    sitting in comfortable ease 
    and directing with subtle gestures of lips and fingers, 
    who should pull forth the sun across the sky, 
    who should govern the revolution of the seasons, 
    who should provide for the rebirth of the harvests, 
    and who should lead the flight of the bird across the arc of the sun 
    and back.. 

    It is from here
    that my father once motioned for me to bend nearer his lips, 
    and I did so,
    and he began to tell me of the time 
    when he lived on the ground below, 
    with the dirt and the weeds, 
    and what happened at dawn one morning 
    while he was preparing for the day. 

    Long time ago, he told me,
    some people who he had never seen came to him
    and asked him to leave the spot where he was camped, 
    but he said, "No.  I have been here such a long time already."

    One of them then replied, "Well, old man, it is no matter. 
    We are a gracious people, and we have decided 
    that we will allow you to remain in the spot you have chosen. 

    But since you refuse to be displaced outward," 
    he told my father,
    “we shall simply displace you upward.
    In addition,
    we have decided that we must lay down our cement rug beneath you
    and your blanket,
    so if you'll step aside, please, thank you."
    My father stepped aside, bewildered.
    "Larry," said the man,
    get your men over here and lay down a cement slab." 
    Turning back to my father, he said,
    "As well, we have decided that we would like to
    build up our walls 
    around you, and in so doing, 
    we will raise you to a place 
    where neither you nor your people have ever been." 

    "Where is that?" my father asked.
    “Old man," he was told,
    “prepare for your ascent into heaven.  Frank? 
    Gather your men. 
    Four walls and a ceiling, please." 
    My father folded his blanket over the wet cement 
    and sat down on top of it.
    "I am fine here," he said,
    and the four walls and the ceiling 
    began to close in around him. 

    The people who were gathered near, 
    becoming more and more by the minute, 
    then raised their hands to the sky 
    and summoned forth from the ground beneath my
    father a powerful movement, 
    setting into motion the rise of a massive 
    four-cornered structure made of brick and steel. 

    The tremendous rumbling caused by such an event
    was said to have been felt across the plains,
    where a sleeping cloud mistook the rumble for
    thunder and began to pour forth its rain, 
    over the mountains,
    where the Spine of God is said to have trembled, 
    through the basins,
    where the fruits of the trees 
    were moved to fall from their branches, 
    and down into the sea
    where the dust was shaken from the shoulder of
    the land. 

    And so began the ascension of my father 
    into this place called heaven.

    Now,
    when I sit with him,
    he likes to tell me that he is still able, 
    when he closes his eyes, 
    to hear the weeds in the wind, 
    blowing their music close to the ground.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002.  All Rights Reserved.

     


    On the Forest Floor

    Now,
    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    blossoms,
    once white,
    now stained pink and red
    as if bruised and wounded,
    sent to the forest floor
    to bleed quietly in the shade.

    The petals are dirty
    are cut and bleeding,
    and looking closely,
    their hurt faces plead into mine.

    But what can I do?

    I gather a handful,
    six or seven,
    and begin to shout around about the glory of these
    fallen criers of
    Spring’s army of joy,
    naming the days of their bannered and heralded births,
    touting the courage of first blossoms,
    and going on about their short lives of timeless purity.

    Afterward,
    I let the petals drop from my fingers,
    watch them come to rest
    on last Autumn’s leaves,
    now dead one full season
    and resting with new stories
    of the Winter

    for the telling to
    the freshly fallen dead
    of Spring’s army of joy.

     


    Amaranths In Dew

    I am a whisperer of the moment,
    a piner at the edge of gardens,
    a drunk gaper of endless petals,

    in whose curves
    I see the hearts
    of potential lovers,

    wet amaranths
    in dew.

     


    Poet Taking Rest

    My lover,
    I admire the length
    and grace
    of your well-shaped hands,
    delicate wings of the butterfly
    pressed tightly together
    in prayer,
    and in between them,
    my only thin asylum
    of brief repose.

     


    Second Note to a Past Lover

    I do not think of it as folly
    to spend all my time dreaming
    of your touch,
    but I do suffer terrible embarrassment from
    those who would say I am
    foolishly enamoured with one
    whom I am not familiar with
    in the least.

    Nevertheless,
    I will continue
    to persist in this behavior,
    foolish as it may appear to
    those lacking in any sense
    of romantic abandon, and
    it would be to them that I
    would simply say that I take
    extreme pleasure in the
    weaving of this thought of silk
    through the 10,000 crests of
    the waters
    that separate us.

     


    This Desperate Threshhold

    At this desperate threshold,
    look how white my knuckles –

    I can’t face wine,
    not like I used to.
    Not anymore.

    Oh,
    my most admired romancer
    of the most strange and terrible nights,
    where will I turn
    if not to your sopping invitation?

    You have pulled me too far apart,
    at my own request –
    I could not ask you
    to pull me back together.

    I have sought out your freeing waters,
    often as I could,
    for more than a century,
    but I have grown weary
    of raising your implements to my lips.

    Understand,
    I have loved you more
    than I have loved my women.

    At this desperate threshold,
    my friend,
    look how white my knuckles,
    but look how clear my eyes.

     


    Nearing the Base of West Mountain

    In the foothills to the East
    there is pollen.

    I am coming in the pollen.

    The pollen falls upon my hair
    and streams across my eyes,

    and in my hair
    there is a breeze.

     


    Spring Hills of Missouri

    Over endless lakeside hills,
    unfolding forests
    show spring blossoms,
    white lace
    airing
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.

     


    Penning Delicate Words

    What fine silk
    moves through these trembling
    fingertips
    but
    what an array of dusty stallions
    courses through my wrist.

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    yet
    I do not sweat as I pen these delicate
    words for you.

     


    Summer River Wildflowers

    At riverside,
    in the waning days of summer,
    I part eight blossoms
    from their stems.

    Later,
    wearing the flowers,
    I stand waist-deep
    in Summer River,
    gathering drifting leaves
    from beyond Summer River’s bluffs.

     


    Fall Valley

    Out here,
    all my crushes
    are on
    divine
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    Devastated,
    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.

     


    Parched

    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    where
    in this endless brown valley
    can we find wine?

    (These horses are but ashy silhouettes).

    What a shabby and dissolute arrangement
    has been laid out for us!
    Is there left a cool breast
    to appeal to?

    Oh, our dry and tongueless bellow!

     


    Sweating at Meremec

    What is there that can restrain joy?
    Not me!
    These pores on my back-
    with what joy they sweat!

    What a time this is
    to radiate with expansiveness and light.
    These people around me,
    these fine days we are spending together,
    such laughter!

    Under these trees,
    in this universe,
    we are so small,
    yet with joy look how long and wide we reach,
    and how deep!

     


    Humming In the Wind

    All day
    Beneath the hot sun
    I thought of you.

    Thought of how
    My love for you is like

    Ten thousand bright blossoms
    Humming in the wind.

     


    Horse Travel Through the Blues

    My blue gaze rides
    toward
    her breast
    like dusk
    moves
    between mountains:

    deeper,
    wetter,
    greener,
    coller,
    roaming and
    loping
    with heavy melancholia.

    This
    is
    the nature
    of horse travel through the blues,
    stepping through rivers,
    noting the shorelines
    flowered
    and
    hung,
    bending in the saddle
    to part blossom
    from stem -

    true and desperate acts
    performed
    at dusk
    during a cool and
    loveless
    summer.

     


    Nectar

    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    dangerous
    when new,
    like the poison of a
    young snake?

    And which is the greater danger?

    Love, leaning nearby, musky and aromatic,
    or the capable length of a snake?

    From either tongue
    drips nectar from the body
    like dew
    from the bud.

     


    The Long Limbed Day

    She is a lean figure
    curved against the window,
    a limber boiugh
    hung heavy with foliage in the sun,
    lithe body drawn from
    the sinew and supple muscle
    of the
    slender
    forest deer.

    In her bare arms
    and in her naked shoulders
    I witness the
    heightened
    and tightened
    awareness of a doe's limbs, prepared
    at any instant
    to bound off in a tremendous
    single
    leap
    nine feet long
    perhaps,
    to go stretching into the
    long limbed day,
    young
    strong
    beautiful
    forever.

    Yes.
    Oh,
    yes, yes, yes.

     


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    you
    have liberated me from the rocks!

    Long reacher,
    high stretcher,
    you unfurl your body
    a silk ribbon of skin
    licking the midday wind,
    and I look,

    oh how I look!

    Woman,
    it is a poet's duty,
    aye,
    a poet's pleasure,
    to sing the tips of your fingers as claws,
    the breadth of your hands as mitts,
    the length of your limbs
    outstretched and roaring
    from your bosom,
    as those of a jaguar in hunger
    leaping from the rocks
    toward
    the hot neck of the sun.

     


    Outrider

    I unsheath
    from my boot
    3,000 wet tongues,
    grim bladed
    butterflies
    sent out to riot in
    the night,

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood
    of
    a
    long
    haired
    poet.

    I unsheath
    these wet things,
    hold them level
    at sea,
    one man standing
    against
    all comers,

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing
    sea
    of
    the
    East.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

    Hangover Medicine

    Coyote had been drinking too much whiskey when he left
    the place where the group was camped.
    He left because he wanted to go make pee.
    He invited those who wished to attend
    to come along.
    Everybody said, "No!"
    So coyote began to wander off
    by himself
    to go make his pee in private.
    Then he turned around and told the others that
    when his pee hardened,
    it would become a solid lump of pure white gold,
    but the others were wise to his tricks,
    and so they said, "No! No way! Even we don't believe
    you can turn your pee into riches.
    Go along in your own peculiar way,
    Coyote,
    and make your pee without bothering us anymore.”

    So Coyote went along the tree line until
    he found a nice clearing to put forth his water,
    but he decided to rest
    for a while before doing this,
    and he passed out beneath the tree
    he had been leaning on,
    forgetting all about the necessity of putting out
    the liquor he had poured into his belly.

    Next morning,
    Coyote awoke with a pain in his innards.
    "What is the trouble here?" he said,
    "ohhh, why does my body ache so?"
    He rubbed his belly all over and made several chants,
    but nothing helped the aches go away.
    Finally,
    he got angry and grabbed hold of his member
    and began to swing it around and choke it, saying,
    "Look! What is wrong with me?
    I feel so awful!
    Help make me better!
    Send the troublemaker who is giving me hell in my body
    out your little hole so I can punish him!
    Do it!"
    Coyote flung his penis around
    and threw it against some trees,

    he even caressed it and encouraged it to perform,
    but not a thing was forthcoming.
    He began to feel even worse,
    but he was not worried yet.
    He put some lotion on his member to heal the sores
    and tucked it away in his pants.

    That is when he began talking to his anus.
    "See here!" said Coyote to his anus,
    "I have maligned and injured my own member
    over this pain I feel in my body.
    No matter what I do,
    my penis,
    my favorite,
    won't even help rid me of my discomfort.
    Help me, anus,
    help me to expel the troublemaker at work in my body."
    So saying,
    Coyote dug a hole,
    pulled down his trousers,
    and squatted.
    He began to strain with all his might.
    He grunted. He waited.
    He implored his anus to do its best,
    and his face grew more red with each try.
    Finally,
    he grew tired from so much effort and rolled over onto his belly,
    cursing his body for the weakness it showed
    in expelling this nemesis from within him.

    By this time
    Coyote could hardly move from the pain,
    and his lower lip began to tremble,
    and he could do nothing but try to cry.
    He stayed that way for a while,
    trying to cry,
    but no tears came out either,
    and he felt worse than ever.
    He stayed that way for two whole days.

    After that,
    he felt better,
    and he got up and began moving around again.

    Copyright © Horse of the Sun and Keith Haines 1999-2002. All Rights Reserved.

     

     

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