Viaticum

Settling down to sleep under our hunting camp’s thatch lean-to in the foothills of Sumaco Volcano, Juanico warned me, ‘Sleep faceup! If a jaguar comes he’ll see you can look back at him and he won’t bother you. If you sleep facedown he’ll think you’re aicha [prey; lit., ‘meat’ in Quichua] and he’ll attack.’ If, Juanico was saying, a jaguar sees you as being capable of looking back—a self like himself, a you—he’ll leave you alone. But if he should come to see you as prey—an it—you may well become dead meat.
          —Kohn1

                    i.

When the moon points its finger
at you, know to be true we
don’t have thoughts, thoughts have us,
it’s how the Universe moves

fools to tears, tears through, consumes,
ambiguities to prove
false ideals held as idols,
idolatrous trust in what

never was but every-
where forever is puts on,
pins down, pulls apart, peels off
layers of, under micro-

                    ii.

scopes, this overdosed myth you
purchased without knowing what
you even bought, misled by
being deprived of this wealth

I’ve got, my Self, abundant
in my art, my arsenal
fully stocked, viaticum
enough in my palms to lock

jaws, claw apart history’s
annals, canal across ponds
too broad for your narrow minds
to canvass onto tar-pitch

                    iii.

canvases, can’t picture it,
this magic so black reflects
what your blindness refracts, acts
against such fucking nitwits,

as every fool with food
for his journey says, convex
to your concave, come to vex
away with my confidence

tricks all semblance of respect
you had for my gifts, my lens
the brim of a top hat tipped,
see within what you project!

__________
1Eduardo Kohn, “Introduction: Runa Puma”, in How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human, published at Berkeley by University of California Press in 2013; page 1.