“Voices In the Wind” by James A. Schmitz


In Southwest caves the evidence still exists:
Charcoal stains, carbon's remnant gift,
Spread like a woven rug left behind
On sandstone ceilings,
The telltale pictographs etched on
Adjoining walls--the only proof save
A few occasional pot shards of the
Hisatsinom culture that vanished like
High desert smoke on starless nights
One thousand years ago

Underneath these orange chalk mesas
Lies the volcanic valley where dinosaurs
Tasted dust, behemoth failures whose tropical
Stalking ground baked, then froze, and sank
Beneath the sand sixty million years before

Southward a 1500 mile plain
Stretches into Mexico and the
Central American Mayan jungles where the ancient
Ancestors first found their necessary path north
Once here their gods, mystical masters of an unseen
Universe,emerged from under this sacred earth,
Able spirits plastered in mud, garbed in feathery
Animal masks,who
Reappear each year to perform their priestly magic by
Shepherding the replenishment of dry washes with
Mid-summer rains
That continues forth and yields
The essential crops once more

Still another story, the unspoken one,
Exists of how invaders from a nearby
Northeast canyon culture came and slaughtered
These Cliffside innocents, obliterating their story,
The peaceful co-existence with a harsh,
Primeval land, causing those voiceless ancients to
Scatter across the uplands into hiding and forever
Downward
Into the naked void of prehistory,
Leaving only the strongest of survivors
To reemerge as a new, yet related culture
With the muted passage of silent eras

These marauders who invaded on those wild murky nights
Had kept awful visions remembered from their own
Ancient jungle pasts buried in their dark, grisly
Imaginations, and now Amidst this strange land heard
In frenzied trances loud, echoing voices that told
Them to sacrifice
Their new enemies to invisible gods,
Eat like crazy men the dead flesh cooked over open
Night fires--even drink the blood of their victims
While feasting on still alive hearts and
Livers come from the mutilated bodies of these
Peaceful people's dying children
Before their eyes opened to this despicable desecration
And they fled in shame, later vanishing themselves
In that ghastly secret canyon enclave

Lying in the dust at the heart of Hopiland between
A giant Juniper, green branches unfolded like a giant
Umbrella, and a withered pinion log, I watch the
Pink-clouded sunset break across the barren valley,
And feel I am the last person
Living on a surface so like the craters of the moon
The wind, god's breath snapping across the middle of
The devil's landscape, has run its course and soon
Night will turn the red desert into a black ocean bed
As the sun slips further through the horizon, water
Being poured from a gourd into a bowl, the night's
Peculiar whisperings increase in volume, and suddenly
I hear those bloody screams of suffering and death
From one millennium ago

Now my own blood grows warm, while my heart,
A helpless hammer, pounds; I attempt to rise,
But I have lain too long, grown stiff from the
Day's journey, an intruder here as well, although
Not a decimator like those primal deviant defilers
Coyotes, age-old witches hand-chosen warriors, howl as
Nighthawks sweep overhead
Below the beginnings of the suppliants' sabbath
Is the new reality,
The old a shaky, unreliable past companion which
I can hardly recall

Will I rise and return to the safety of the
Modern world's synthetic civilization left only a
Few hours and miles behind,
Or remain a prisoner trapped between the
Present and the past, doomed also to disappear
Without record, an anonymous collection of
Bleached bones swept away by time's careless memory,
My retribution for imagining those unspeakable
Occurrences best left hidden in a faceless,
Immeasurable antiquity--
A lasting punishment for wandering into
Hallowed country never meant for an
Uninitiated traveler to behold?