The Ghost Buffalo

Serpentine and contorted,

the fiery black eyes of the shaman

laser into the other world,

where passions convert to spirit:

a feeling of nothingness, collapse,

the Earth moving, opening

beneath him, the wild, hard stones

of the underworld pushing

farther and farther down toward

the sentient heart of creation,

the somber, primitive thrust of will

that powers the sacred Ghost Buffalo.

Death spews its revulsion at the unbridled

lust that primitive life forms betray,

swirling in a vortex of dread, lacking

all sentiment and hope, darkening the face

of nature, until the Ghost Buffalo disappears

in the mist, emblem of the beyond made

manifest in the now, caught in the trap of time,

burned by the sun, alien to itself, serving

no master save the Great Spirit, who dances

where he will, who swoops alongside the hawk

in its spiral of killing. Behold the self that must

be sacrificed at dawn to liberate the night.

I have heard the stories of the elders, wrapped

in smoke, their words rising outside the tepee,

soaring to the emptiness above, the realm

of the bright beacon of stars, the parched voice

of the sky, the overburdened, the walking dead.

Nothing is as it seems in the maelstrom

of existence, all senses vying in confusion

at the howling winds of change, at the gusts

of dust and debris, careless, without aim,

tied to the leggings of the Spirit, who dances

without barrier, over the circumference

of the Earth, over the firmament of sky and sea,

over the burning biers of the dead, over the cairns

tuned to darkness, over the riddle of this fleeting life.

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