Larry Brody’s Poetry: “I Can Mention No Names”

by Larry Brody

kidhollywoodcovercoyotecaptureNOTE FROM LB: 

We’re in the Hopi lands this time. Where I learned a lesson about names. And power. And the subtle, supernatural way even the so-called “War of the Sexes” can be waged:

I Can Mention No Names

I can mention no names.
To name my friends is to give
Others power over them. To name
My friends and discuss their magic
Is to make the magic go away.
So we have my friend the wild Indian,
And the Hopi elder,
And even the Navajo dog, who to this
Day has herself never told me what
She really is called.
I can mention no names, out of respect
And hope, that someday the world my
Words create will be true. But I speak now
Of the wife of the Hopi elder, who has
Missed out on the most simple of
Pleasures, living like the shadow of
A hint of a shade. I learned this
One day at First Mesa, sitting at her
Kitchen table, talking to her man. He is
Sixty-five, she fifty-seven, and she cannot
Recall one moment of her life as having
Been without him. Still, as the elder and I
Spoke of the wonders we’ve seen, of the
Stars, and the animals, the visions, and
Dreams, the wife of the Hopi elder looked
Wistful, and sad. “I have been married to this
Man for forty years,” she said to me. “He has
Danced, and flown, and heard, and seen,
And felt and laughed, and cried, and died.
He walked through stone once, and made
The mark of the eagle on his arm. He heard
The Great Spirit prophecise, and debated
Several fine points. My husband not only
Knows the beginning and end of creation,
He has been to both places, seen them
Whirl into one endless time. He has been
Part of the earth, both mother and her own
Child. Ah,” said the wife of the Hopi elder,
“He has been! He has been!
But I have worked,” she said. “I have harvested
The corn, and husked it, and ground it. I have
Gone out with the sheep, and slaughtered the
Ewes. On my stove, for forty years, has been
Coffee, and the simmering pot of mutton stew.
I have cleaned! I have sewn! I have raised
Two boys, and put on their band-aids, and
His. I have watched them all drunk, and listened
To their lies, and their wishes, and their
Magicked rewards.
But never,” she told me, in a soft, softened
Voice, “never have I seen the stars dance.
Never have I had a vision, or heard an animal
Speak. Never have I remembered a dream.
I love my husband, but never, no never, not
One time, and in no place, have I shared this
Man’s everyday life.”
I can mention no names.
To name my friends is to give
Others power over them. To name
My friends and discuss their magic
Is to make the magic go away.
The wife of the Hopi elder knows this
Far better than I.
She says she has no need to be afraid.
She says to tell you her name is Lurleen.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, “As the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out to me, ‘Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you compromise your artistic vision by trying to please those who are paying. If you don’t accept money, you can be yourself. Like your art, you too are free.’”