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Fall 2001, Volume 19.1


Photo of William Kelley.

William Kelley

William Kelley (A.B., Brown University, A.M. in Irish Studies, Harvard University) has published five novels: Gemini, The God Hunters, The Tyree Legend, Witness, and The Sweet Summer. His book A Servant of Slaves will be published in 2002. He received an Academy Award for the motion picture Witness in 1986 and is preparing Witness Two with his collaborator, Earl W. Wallace, for production in 2002. Mr. Kelley has taught at Harvard University, San Diego State University, and the USC Film School. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including two best script awards (Gunsmoke) from the Western Writers of America. All of his novels are currently being reissued by I-Universe Press.


Gordon Moose

Gordon Moose delivered a cord of lodgepole
last night,
Coming in unannounced and quietly by way of the
cattle gate
And throwing the wood into a conical pile next to the
south brook.

(I like to stack it myself.) His partner, Harris, also
a Paiute,
Grinned at me when I came out to
pay up,
One seventy a split cord—a damned
good price
In Bishop, California, in the middle
of January.

I watched as they tossed the
Pieces over their shoulders from
the back
Of the pick-up truck, and I envied them their covenant with
the wood.
And while I watched, a small
epiphany lighted
The cool evening. Gordon turned,
nodded toward
A two-cord stack of split piñon
just by.
"Them from the rounds I brought you
in August?"
I nodded. "Tough wood. Had to split it
with wedges."
"A bit springy, ain't they?"
he said.
"More than a bit," I said. "More like
living bones."
"I got them logs up on Tioga,
you know.
Downside of the grade where they
dropped them,
Building the road to Yosemite.
My people
Lived on piñon nuts, starved on them winter
to winter.
Probably nuts from them same trees.
Why not?"

A warrior fiercely caught on a point of
ancient pain,
Who sold the bones of fire, but not
the flame.

What Gordon Moose was feeling in those
piñon staves
Has been felt by many in their
sacred wood:
Agamemnon, Christ, and Wovoka in his white
man's box.
And their small screams may still be heard on January nights
in Bishop.

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