’ilakáw’ispa [Land of Brightness Mentioned in a Traditional Death Song]

Michael Wasson

Now I’m barefoot

in the driveway

shirtless   in overalls

rolled cuffs   my shy

hands buried away

my brother’s back

inside   stacking Lincoln Logs

like a reservation

cathedral   four walls

bombed out

          the ruin still in his

hands   a grey light bulb

staring at the back

of his head

mom checks

another fresh letter

lectricity’s fuckin out again

& she’s behind

that unlit window

where a long veined crack

splits her along

her wilted dark

cheekbone   just missing

her tensed mouth






          this only family of ours

these clothes of wetted gravel an arm

          of dusked sun

a leg of calmed pine an opened body of field

          a skull cleared of daylight

our hair of fallen leaves our dark backs

          of river wash

a blinking eyelid of sap

          our skin of dying grass

all of us

          husked & humming



this reservation of

cá’ya payóopayoo

no songbirds not even

the hummingbird

drinking the red sweet

Kool-Aid from our lips

& there it is a robin

k’áw’ k’áw’

pecking worms

out of the still earth

below our naked

headless aspen.

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