In new listings, the bald eagle, Haliaceius leucocephalus, replaces the southern sub-species, Haliaceius leucocephalus leucocephalus, which has been listed as endangered since 1967, causing a great deal of confusion due to the similarity of the birds and their overlapping habitat.—Wilderness Report, April 1978
Mother, I should like to change my name, if it please, and before
I fly the nest
I should rather be like our uncles
Who fly a more-northern course;
I do not want to be mistaken for one of the south,
and less-protected, and dead.
But, Son, eagles have no names;
you are built of coagulated wind
and wasp-chewed sky
And there is no room in your heart for names,
We need not think in terms of words, but only visions
and their Doing; I had a friend-egret once
who told me that if we had but the strength not to learn the
word bullet it would bounce gently off our hides
She said "When you begin to understand their words
you will be ensnared
And so do not ask me about someone else's words for our family;
You have no name
to change. Repeat after me:
I am sky, I am wind—
I have no name
I want to take the life of an eagle.
Then I shall have bagged
Fierce Pride, and I shall have its heart shellacked,
and eat its brain
And so be a Man.
I must be, and always will be, played according to Hoyle.
Life would be so empty were it not for this Hoyle fellow—things'd be
but it creates no jobs.
God I'm glad they're not butterflies
else we might have to index our prospective kills by cloacal flare
or tarsi—but those names!
We mill about below, wailing on ground, confused.
What shall we kill?—and we want to have done God's Right Thing.
Give me something simple in my sights;
their ranges overlap right over the henhouse and I cannot afford
to move to Georgia to be made a Man.
I'm no angel but I'm not wanton;
I want to take the lives
only of those beasts that are in season.
(And there are a few of us here who love to see automobile wrecks,
and gawk at four-alarm fires, and so we wish to have the thrill of
spotting one of a kind so Close to the Edge
of Leaving for All Time: "Gods! Tim, look! Leucocephalus—
and him so close to annihilation...! Gods! How elemental!
Oh! To be one of Men—the power in us...!—)
Lord, if it please, for us to be men and kill, properly,
Give us, O,
Give us legislation,
And give us words
To help us name Those Whose One Foot We Shove Into the Grave and
Their Slightly Safer Brothers;
Keep It Simple, Stupid; but by all means give us a Work
Were mountains created 'midst the hum of words?
Then can those same mountains be saved from covetous words
by the application of yet other words?
And all of your proud faces...
First, and by all means, give those science fellows outside a job;
that of naming the Live in a Dead Language:
That irony should be fun to bear.
Perhaps we could have the birds sport armbands
as war-ghettoed Jews were made to wear.
Inject the eggs of the doomed with dye, I say—and let not
The Executive Immunity Of The North be stained
upon a single soaring southern face.
That you need but one hating man who kills
and you will have a line outside your door in an hour
Of Those Qualified to Save.
Keep it simple, Lord; but, if it please, gimme a job
I am no angel, but I am not wanton;
In thy name
I may Kill, or Save. In any event, be on my Side,
I'd like to rescue ants, but first I need to stick my foot into the nest.
O we are sorry for you, and shall use all of our resources now
to put you to rights.
"The Hopis refused to file any claim on the ground that 'they
had already claimed the whole Western Hemisphere long before
Columbus' great-grandmother was born. We will not ask a
white man, who came to us recently,
"'For a piece of land that is already ours.'"
What if your lives were up for legislative grabs? Would you speak?—and from northerners and
southerners, the fliers, none—
no condescension to
"Here, sign this petition to save the same trees that made its
Don't be silly—it's built into the
like a Hapsburg lip
And if you ever let them pin you "proud," they've given you
something to lose:
a contrived Place, and, if you fail them, their contrived
Fly free, Wind-Son,
you have no name to
Mother, please—can there be no change with the times?
If this be north, I'll be happy with silence, in grace;
If this be south or anywhere in between, they'll shoot first and classify
This can all be solved, I'm thinking, with the carrying of proper ID.
Don't get caught up in their words—you cannot know how
important this is. We have no signs—
We must be, and that, eagles.
Mother, I love you, but...
But I do not want to die.
You must go the eagle's way, Young Lord Flier,
even if it means to soar nameless before guns.
To resist, to speak,
to point yourself out as your so-called safer kin
Is not the eagle's way;
Pride, in this matter, is not connected with whiteheadedness, nor with the construction
Eagles have no names.
You are built of coagulated wind, your Father,
and wasp-chewed sky, and me,
And there is no place in your fierce heart
but for love, not names.
We need not think in terms of Words or Work, but only Visions and
their Doing, and fly our each long Day.
I had a friend-egret once
Who told me that if we had the strength not to learn the
word bullet it would bounce gently off our hides—
Mother, my sister flew 'way south last moon, and has never come
home again. This afternoon, down south, but beneath no clouds, something sounded
like what they call "thunder."
I am afraid.
She broke, wearily, and said,
"When you begin to understand their guns as words
"You must take them as
|April 19, 1978, Chicago, Illinois; with a quotation from Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi, page 322||Copyright © 1978, 2005 by David Newkirk (DavidNewkirk@gmail.com). All rights reserved.|