View from the terrace of the family's Brooklyn Heights apartment

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Kiwago Indians

At the center of the council ring Donald Kauth 
     in the feathered bonnet
  and scant raiment of a Chief
          (over his bathing suit)
begins the solemn ceremony
     before the astonished eyes
of Harlem and Bensonhurst
As twilight deepens, Wakonda himself
the Great Spirit
  miraculously lights the central fire
which crackles and leaps house-high 
  (with some help from Gregory Corso
  who pulls the string)
The calumet is pointed to the four corners
  to the hot wind
  that he come not in his strength
  to the east, to the north, and to the west wind
  Eyune keyuniósneh nunweh!
After the Deer Dance 
  and four choruses of Shonni-Monni
  each kid is given a white wax candle
lit round the ring from the central fire

          Rise up old flame 
(they sing)
  by thy light glowing
          show to us beauty 
  vision and joy
We are the red men!
  feathers in our head men!
down among the dead men!  
  Pow wow!
A kerosine arrow arched to the lake below
signals the Chief’s departure
  (in an aluminum canoe)
and a straggling line of kids
  each guarding a candle 
  against the night
wend their way to the flagpole for taps

               Day is done
gone the sun
from the lake, from the hills, from the sky
all is well, safely rest
God is nigh

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