POEM: Tripless Trip

In the outlands lives a shaman,
an unkempt medicine man of some renown.

He grinds some roots with a wooden pestle,
black and shiny on its business end.

His apprentice sits drumming —
soft and offbeat.
You listen deeply,
dead-eyed tranquil,
but can’t wear that wild rhythm
“like a bear skin,”
whatever that means.

The medicine will be bitter, but no matter.
It’s not for you.
Your cure will be sought on a tripless trip.

When the shaman re-inhabits
his sweat-soaked body,
he says only,

“Beware the Jackdaw!”

You say, “What’s that mean?”

He says, “That’s for you to know,
and for me… not to know.”

You say, “OK, what’s a jackdaw?”

With an intense wild-eyed stare,

he says,
“Google it.”

You say, “Seriously?”

Then he shrugs and he nods off.

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