Monday, October 31, 2005

A Sixties Story

- In Memory of Little Joe-

Who smiled and nodded through the night,
eyes shining in a walnut puckered face,
while we passed the bowl of bitter plants
in silence around the circle, sitting inside
the deerskin teepee from the time
the sun disappeared over the blooded orange
Sangre de Christo Mountains to vertigo tipped
dawn fringed with pink purple stripes
in dry New Mexican skies,

Who chanted in tongues unknown
but in words that pierced the heart
understood, then passed the rattle and drum
from hand to hand so we could beat
the rhythms and sing the songs of the lives
we brought to the teepee from all corners
of the earth to the clear New Mexican night,
where we heaved the contents from our bellies
and the fireman shoveled out the sick,
leaving us with our pure peyote dreams,

Who built his adobe hut brick by
muddy brick studded with straw
on the sage desert with the hippie woman
from the east who married Little Joe
so she could pray with the Pueblos,
work the land, and sing the songs
of the Native Americans who taught us
how to live with the earth
and each other,

Who died silently in our midst,
who we buried in our hearts,
who lives now and forever
in the vast New Mexican sky.

–Liz Burk
Draft © 2005 L. Burk All Rights Reserved.


Susan said...

This is beautiful. It captures a whole way of life with such attention to detail. It is a moving narrative and I felt I was in that world as I read it.

Anonymous said...


Just read this again after months, and found many lines to love in it: among them,"we buried him in our hearts".

I enjoy your work---keep it up despite all the busyness.

Deborah M