• deidre
    deidre updated an article Poems from a Friend.

    Poems from a Friend

    posted in Teachings on 7th Feb, 2021


    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.




    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.
    Keith J. Haines


    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


    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.

    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

    even the most gentle of female rains
    brings down the early dogwood
    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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
    among the dogwood
    and the plum.


    Penning Delicate Words

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

    A timeless dripping sun
    labors over me,
    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.

    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
    sugar maple forests.

    It’s Fall.

    I roam the valley
    for a
    Summer flower.



    These three desperate throats,
    in the wake of such a malignant sun,
    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
    her breast
    like dusk
    between mountains:

    roaming and
    with heavy melancholia.

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

    true and desperate acts
    at dusk
    during a cool and



    Isn't love, too,
    proclaimed to be at it's most
    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
    forest deer.

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

    yes, yes, yes.


    Jaguar Leaping in the Wind

    My muse,
    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!

    it is a poet's duty,
    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
    the hot neck of the sun.



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

    wing tips dark as hot razors
    stained with the blood

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

    long haired, doublebraided,
    point taken,
    praying for hope against
    the bellowing

    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,
    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.
    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.
    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.