Tag Archives: Death


In nineteen seventy five
In the rainforests of Venezuela
Eric lived for a year with the Yanomami

He also lived with the Hunkpapa
the little people that only the shamans see
unless you toke what the shamans toke
then you can see them too

When Eric was ready to go home
the Yanomami gathered by the river
and wailed and mourned as if he’d died

Eric says his goodbyes and tries to start his boat
Tuned up, new plugs and all, but it just won’t start

He pulls and pulls while the tribesmen wail

After what seems like a very long time
the shaman comes down to the boat
and asks Eric if he’s sure he must leave

Eric insists again that the time has come

The shaman admits that he has placed
Hunkpapas in the motor to keep him there

He pulls them out one by one
juggling them hot in his hands
and throws them steaming into the river
One pull and the motor starts

In two thousand and twelve in Austin
Eric is ready to go home again
Many wail and wish that he would stay
but he knows that it is time to leave

At times like this it helps
to have a shaman for a friend

John Hawk flies in and reads
Eric’s poems to the Hunkpapas
and watches as the little people leave

It takes a few pulls, but the motor starts



John Berry writes a poem
for his dear departed Mary
and reads it at all the open mics

It is a lovely poem
about parallel universes
and all the other ways
they might have met
or never met at all

He tells me that it changes
every time he reads it

which makes sense
since it is well known
that you can never step
in the same poem twice

I hear that it is also true of rivers



I lost my father
when he was sixty one

He wasn’t exactly lost
I knew where he was
but he didn’t

Six weeks in a coma
some parts he sent ahead
and some came back

The great Swiss-German
precision driven
driven precision
mind stopped ticking

True the right artistic side
the one he’d put away
the one that mostly died
when his mother died
at eight came out to play

Whatever we hadn’t resolved
and there was plenty
stayed that way

but art is no small
thing either