If I fashion a knife from the right bone
or stone, it lays where it drops
to say
I lived on this shore
ate fish for a thousand years
and killed game
with my right hand.

We beat the trees, over again, with rakes
and shovels and axes and
burned their parts as if they held
life itself.

Wolves at clearings’ edges become guard dogs
then pets, yet still perk toward a sound
of mountains
grinding wrinkles into valleys.
Rain pounds everything.
We dream we are wolves.

In storms she chattered about her mother
their frightened dashes to a prairie root cellar
as dark gods stomp the sky and
suck the air from lungs.
These are lessons of the blood

splashed across pastures
like late afternoon sun.
Cows allow this – we drink
their milk and become
our own kind of art.

Keep the wind on your right shoulder
woodpile to the left.
Smoke moves in its own
Deep in the night hands hold
all the way back.

Walls that hold back cities
are the real architecture;
arrangements of burial flowers
remain the only true art.

Zero black – it’s night again —
too far on the ice to make it back.
Men circle the hole with spears.


Tracy Mitchell is a Minnesota-based occasional writer, inspired primarily by his surroundings and the vagaries of this frail and transitory life. He keeps a digital recorder close for notes of ice, weasels, and the unexpected sun dog, all of which try to elbow their way into his work.


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