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Sample Poems by Tayve Neese


Prophecy of the Four-Legged

The horned things knew
the scent of blood usurping sweet hay

as the woman cracked and sang.
The hooved things stamped

the soil, bleated while she moaned,
their rhythm of foot an ease to her splitting.

There was the quiver of oxen haunch,
the slight ripple of donkey hide

when the child slid into this world
of ovens and knives,

tethers and thorns,
their lowing lamenting

what every mother looses
to God.



Coyote

1

Muzzle lifted, what she sniffs out is this

broken world--pierces its jugular
to see if it still gives pulse.

What she knows is trapped in her throat
and if she spoke, you would turn into the alder

whose branches snapped, unable to bear
weight of ice and light.



2

She knows how to mend the source of wounds.

It is not in any lick of flame, wind or ground,
or the mouth of a slow river you thought a baptism for broken song.

What you thought you knew was wrong.


3

Residue of suffering is balm.

It coats all hearts and genitals,
stains all births with funerals.

This is why the coyote curses
and blesses the soil in her same long note.

From her howl she is remaking
her own four legs, her dirty pelt,

settling back into bone, her clatter
of pain, joy filling her throat.



Emitting Smolder

Perhaps there is a rabbi to offer paper
to a burning woman, sentences moving

backwards to jar me into the direction of the sacred.

Perhaps there is a sweat lodge to take in
the hands and mouth I have orphaned--

my soul supine, feet needing drum and rattle.

But, sky alone provides slow swaddle,
prairie, a pillow of grass as seeds crack their lullaby.

Perhaps here, against ground
in fields where the last bison

was felled, I will rise as if I was the first--

a woman with hooves of fire,
their soot and char for you to follow.



Only Her Buried Hand Rises

from photograph of Darfur genocide, 2006


From soil, the wrist and fingers are not bloom and stamen,
although the child that first found the rising tarsals

thought them something for picking.

This is not the hand of Donatello's Magdalen,
although the angle of thumb and forefinger suggest it.

This is not Michaelangelo's hand of the Sistine Chapel.
What angels were ever here?

This is not the hand of Fatima
with its wide eye open at center palm

able to repel the fire.

This is not the hand I will hold in mine,
our flesh speaking mother to mother,

knuckles telling how they kept daughters
suspended at breast, how fingertips rolled toes,

new bones as prayer beads.