the magic of drywall and snack food

In the farthest reaches of Lapland,

So far to the north as to be almost the end of the world

The inhabitants fed, clothed, and sheltered by reindeer

In various stages of the beast’s life cycle

(Indeed, sniff the good burghers of Stockholm and Goteborg,

It’s difficult to say where the natives begin and the reindeer end),

A small gathering of men and children sit rapt

As an ancient shaman sings tales old as the land itself,

Songs of the clumsy, man-devouring Stallo,

The whimsical, mischievous firefoxes,

All the while tapping a drum fashioned from bones and skin,

Upon which sit three stones taken from the stomach of a great albino stag

Years, perhaps even eons ago (time as inexact and diffuse

As the light at this inhospitable latitude),

Their dance having great significance

And momentous portent.


A young boy—small, swarthy, and sly,

As is the norm in this place—steps inside the tent

To escape the wind and purplish near-darkness of mid-day

And, without a word, runs over toward the drum,

Swiftly slapping its surface,

Causing the reindeer-pebbles to scatter amongst the stunned listeners,

(They forbidden by custom to so much as touch the artifacts.)

The old man cannot follow the flight of the tiny nuggets,

His eyesight dimmed by the decades of sharply-angled light

And glare from huge. seemingly endless embankments of snow.

The boy leaves the tent without a further thought of the ancient,

Or the huge, smelly beasts who plod resolutely

Through this pallid land with its odd, indirect light

Rife with malleable shadows

Performing sleight-of-hand aound the supple edges of the visible spectrum;

His visions are specters of great houses of brick and drywall,

Ships leaving from the great ports in the south,

Pockets filled with the weight of gleaming coins

To put in machines containing small bags of pretzels or chips

Baked in a factory somewhere in Pennsylvania.






3 thoughts on “the magic of drywall and snack food

  1. There is so little left of the old ways, even respect for what it once meant to a clan or tribe to be united by ritual and song. You have said this so well in your poem, and evoked the far, dark Northern lands too.

  2. A truly well-composed and imaginative commentary on so-called civilization! Lapland to Pennsylvania – an amazing journey in many ways. You’ve written an impressive work here.

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