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"Conception", "Jade and Other Jewels", "Stillborn Yolk", "Taking Coyotes Seriously" & "Silver Spoons" by Will Falk



Conception


Things got too hot, you couldn’t stop 

your dams from breaking. 


Your swollen rivers, thick and thawed

washed over me in white water tides. 


Then, those frozen tears

you hold back out of hard habit


melted, at last, and dripped down 

your round cheekbones to mix 


and mingle with our sweat 

that condensed on my chest


until we collapsed together sobbing

but safe now with nothing left. 


It really could be like that: Tension,

friction, and life-giving release. 


Tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, 

pain, passion, volcanic eruption. 


A seed settling into shuddering stillness, 

the moment of a new world’s conception.  

  


Jade and Other Jewels


Back behind an abandoned brothel,

half-way between Mina,

nowhere, and Tonopah, Nevada,

ghosts chase magpies through the mist. 


Ghosts don’t like the colors

of magpie feathers

because they reflect 

the history of this land.

 

Black and blue are

the beatings they took. 

White, the blank space

they wish would replace

all the green feathers 

that remind them 

of the age-old quest 

for jade and other jewels

that killed them. 


That’s why if you watch 

magpies eat the dead, 

they’ll haunt you until

you become a hollow bone

instead of a soft circle of skin. 


Skin doesn’t shatter. 

But life, like water,

flows through bones better

and flesh, in the end,

always rots


if it isn’t eaten by magpies

before the ghosts in the mist

chase them all away.  



Stillborn Yolk


The mockingbird cannot read

other people’s poetry. 


She mimics their songs. 

But only to prove

she can, indeed, sing. 


It does not matter, she thinks, 

who sings it better: 

the poet or her or the wind 

through the tree she perches in. 


When her speckled babies crack

and stillborn yolk spills out, 

any sound is better than 

true silence, empty and dead, 


or the incessant gnaw

of insatiable chainsaws

with scrambled egg 

on their face. 



Taking Coyotes Seriously


I was so lost I found myself 

out there in the sagebrush

taking coyotes seriously.


Their instructions involved

smoothing the sand out,

sifting through the dirt 

with my fine-toothed hands, 

searching for bones shattered 

by cavalry carbine bullets, 

unspeakable tragedies still unspoken,

and stories no one would tell me.   


I blew on the earth, 

trying to rekindle the sparks

of the desert’s memories. 


Nothing happened. 


You cannot get blood from stone, 

but I hoped desert soil was different. 

Turns out, when spilled blood soaks 

into soil, it doesn’t give it back.


And why wouldn’t desert soil

be a lot like us? Somethings no one 

ever wants to remember. 



Silver Spoons


Stabbed in the back by silver spoons

wielded by those who care more 

about table manners than the famine. 


They spoon-feed themselves 

on what they find in my heart. 

They take more than that,

finally scraping my ribs clean

of my last inclination to resist. 


Flashfloods toss my skeleton

like whale bones in a hurricane

into slot canyons where the long

conversations of tectonic plates

grind me into salt to spice the soil.


It's only when I sink into earth

that I learn betrayal is nothing 

new under the sun. 


I feel the knife in each skyscraper, 

oil well, and open pit mine.

I hear each degree Celsius climb 

the thermometer's mercury ladder

to the tune of clinking silver pieces.


But the worst pain of all 

is the way some of her children 

sell her out to declare 

her pain, pleasure 

and her pleasure, pain.


They think smog makes the sunset

more beautiful. They cut off mountains 

they decide shouldn't be there.

They tell rivers where to go.

They capture freely given sunshine,

yoke the wind, and divide 

what should have always been indivisible. 

They say they are color blind

while seeing only in black and white.


Their treachery began 

when they forgot that clean water 

always quenches your thirst. Now, 

they hallucinate the queerest of theories: 

that which can be transgressed

must be transgressed.




Will Falk is an activist, author, and attorney. The natural world speaks and poetry is how Will listens. His law practice is devoted to helping Native American communities protect their sacred sites and cultural resources. His first full-length collection of poetry When I Set the Sweetgrass Down was published by Homebound Publications' Wayfarer Books in April 2023. You can follow his work at willfalk.org

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