An Indian Tale

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There was this god who peered
through foreign eyes and whispered
through lips that weren’t his own.

When he thought in numbers,
they appeared transposed, reversed,
ridiculous: the 3 a 7, the 4
a cow dead in a field, its legs
forked to the cloud-softened sky.

One day, he met a magic man,
dead for thirty years, and told him
of his confusion, the dreams
that belonged to someone else,
an untouchable perhaps whose teeth
chattered in his cup as he begged.

The magic man listened and rose
from the dust on which he rested
and took the god’s hand in his
own yellowed magic hands and said,

“You are a stranger to yourself,
something new under the sun
like a man who can only love one
or a baby born from two mothers.

Be that stranger.”

But the god didn’t listen, and he took
his transposed numbers and strange dreams
and like a fool killed himself in a forest
near the temple of the goddess Kali

who still retells the story
as if it were a comedy about a god
metamorphosing into a blue horse.

Indian Tale

Photo used under CC.

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About Author

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Atlanta Review, and many other print and online journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his prose and poetry memoir, Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Road of Bones, his novel about two German lovers separated by war, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.”

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