Verse by Caleb Mannan

If you like Robert Service, Longfellow, Tolkien, Milton, Robinson Jeffers, Whitman, Poe, The Bible, Tennyson, Ray Bradbury, life, death, Untermeyer, Pound, Donne, joy, sorrow, Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, children, beauty, Dante, Tom Waits, then set yourself down beside this fire.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lion's Mane

In the sunset
all the colors of the Lion’s mane.
My children call these colors by name.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


At times I am the god of war,
gleaming and golden, savage and brave.
I raise my sword as a scepter,
I rise above mine enemies.
I lay my tools of war beside me
in the sand at the water’s edge,
and looking out upon the singing sea,
I sit with my back to my enemies.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stevens County Verses

Painted pony under shade of dry pine,
at the foot of the mountain in a meadow.

Blue backed barn swallows swoop into the rafters
of this barn that is older than I and my fathers.

Grendel the farm dog lies in pathways in the sun,
too old and tired to move for the children.

I strode the deer trail in midday,
until a buck and a doe scattered at my trespass.

‘These wildflowers,” I say, “what are they?”
Yet I grew amongst them, I never knew their name.

In the meadows of lilting wildrye,
the cattle and deer feast together amid dilapidated barns
and mysterious mounds of stone.

Side by side, white birch and pine
rise up in the forest.

These barbwire fences across acres and acres
though decrepit never seem to fall.

I saw the mighty river from a bend in the road
that I had never known was river view.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pork Chop

I went outside
and lay on my back
on the hot patio
in the sun.
I lifted my arm over my eyes.
I felt everything around
and in me,
the wind, the birds,
the sky, the sun,
the anxiety, the woe,
the joy, the peace,
my blood one with the sun.
It was only when
I heard the sizzle
of the pork chop
in the cast iron skillet
over the songs of sparrow
and crow and jay
that I returned indoors.


The clatter of dishes brings the dogs to the door.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Love and Not Destruction

Through the sagebrush Grandfather,
as a child I come to you.
When the earth is once again living,
when it moves and laughs and breathes,
I will walk with you.
Oh Grandfather,
when the earth is once more
more than just a cadaver,
I will commune with you.
I will lay beside the fire
this new living earth shall usher,
usher forth with love,
love and not destruction.


Though June,
we still see snow in the mountains.
A spirit blanket to cover
the Spokane Tribe
that slowly dies of cancer
contracted from a Cold War gash
never fully sutured
seeping Uranium that poisons
the water, the wildlife, the fish,
the native chokeberries, bitterroot,
and the ceremonial white camas root.

Our Song

Everyone one has a song to sing
And in their own voice sing it.
Let us then be a choir of chords together,
For a blade of grass withers when cut,
Yet is a basket to fill when woven.

Where the Calves of Bison Lie

Amongst the xanthous balsamroot,
purple larkspur and shooting stars,
where the calves of bison lie,
the pronghorn mother beds and bears her children
beside the roads of man.
For the coyotes know the maker of the highways
is the maker of fire and death,
and they shy from killing the pronghorn fawns
for fear of maker's machine.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

LXVIII. So Sang the Blood of the Fathers (Follows 'Poetic Fathers')

So sang the blood of the fathers,
as the jawbone it slipped from my hand,
And that jawbone of Balaam’s jackass
came to rest upon bloody red sand.
From blood and bone sprang a great dragon,
rearing his ugly death’s head,
Yet I saw that he was beautiful,
for I, his master, had nothing to dread.


Old blue crow atop
Yellow hydrant,
Thou art faded with age.
And yet you return,
My harbinger,
Every day in my front yard.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LXXVI. Poetic Fathers

When the time had come to
Raise up my poetic fathers in praise,
I, of youth and long mane,
Suffered grievously under the burden of their law.
And taking up the jawbone of a literary ass,
I slew my fathers every one in a bloodlust frenzy.
I clove Poppa Pound in two,
I decimated Whitman’s ranks of many sons,
I tore Blake and Shelley and Wordsworth asunder,
I hacked Auden and dismembered Jeffers,
I annihilated the Beatnik Philistines,
Even laid to rest my beloved Longfellow
In my blood red mist,
The Romantics, The Modernists,
The ways of old and new I slew.
As I surveyed the carnage about me,
Chest heaving and ears ringing,
I knew that which I had done.
I wept amongst the entrails and the blood,
For I was all alone.
I became manic, wild, a madman,
I fell upon the ground and cried out as
I strove so desperately to piece my fathers back together,
Matching bloody bits and pieces.
But alas, it was not to be, the damage was too great.
In despair at seeing the savage work of my hands,
I fell upon my sword.
As I slumped upon the ground,
My blood flowed forth and mingled
With the blood of my fathers,
And this blood cried out,
Electric, rushing, raging, singing:
“Rise up young man rise up!
Do you not know that to praise your fathers is idolatry,
And to slay them is to murder,
Yet to do both is human,
And to know it is divine!
So rise up young man rise up!
For you are no longer a son,
But now a father in this bloodletting!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

LXXV. Spring Illness

One of these years
I will finally succumb to these illnesses
that ail me, aye, but once a Spring.
In that day I will hear Jeffer’s Demon klaxon call me thrice,
And leave my psoriatic skin filled with strep and sin and vice,
And I will die,
Leaving my body to the earth
And the rest for God knows only
As the angels cry as the sailors:
‘Who shall have this!’
Over my soul and spirit and heart and mind.

LXXIV. May the Law of Moses

May the Law of Moses convict you
In that you may never uphold its weight,
Just as the Gospel of Jesus compels you
With the good news that you are a saint
When your stone tablets break.

LXIII. Technology

hath made apes of us all.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

LXXII. April Morning

My beard bristles as the back of a boar,
As the boar, I come back for more
Standing on the back porch in the spring sun,
My heart full of love and my head full of lead.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

LXXI. Simon's Song

For Simon Rodia

To the unknown, indefatigable,
Stumbling toward some existent light,
I sing.

With your hands you have built towers,
Towers alone you smite.

Within the darkness thou hast labored,
Thou hast cast thy light.

To the man, the hammer, the chisel,
To the spires that they bring,
I sing.

But more so to a conquering spirit,
With which a man is give.

The spirit of self hewn horizons,
Horizons he sees and wills to live.

To the man, the spirit, and the hammer,
To the courage it brings,
I sing.

My Daddies, and My Daddy's Daddies

LXX. My Daddies, and My Daddy's Daddies

The black and white bodies
Of my forefathers prostrate upon the ground
In rigor mortis clutching
At their spirit leaving earth
Is no less sobering than the day they hit the dirt.
They with once shining eyes now dulled,
Their coarse beards caked with mud,
Their useless relics strewn amongst the grass.
These are my daddies, and my daddy’s daddies,
Now just black and white spirits
And the dirt beneath my feet.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

LXIX. A Toast for Violet

For Violet Beatrice Mannan, on the occasion of her 5th birthday

May you rise up as the willow,
Beside the willow and the pine.
As I raised a glass the day of your birth,
So you shall when I die.

May you grow tall in the valley,
Amongst the flowers and the grass.
Ever smiling back to my smoldering fire,
As the days begin to pass.

May you wander down the rivers
With the sun upon your face.
And when the crows obscure the sun,
My smoke will lead the way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

LXVIII. Nakedness

There is a nakedness between us
That rends a great divide.
In this nakedness I hide.

Though our Father calls out to us
Our nakedness divides.
In this dark divide we hide.

For fear is simple and hope is toil-
Between them is a great divide.
Naked knowledge begs I hide.

LXVII. Hymn for Him

I kissed your bare neck as you wept
For the given up ghost of your brother.
His body was broken but his spirit was freed
To take wing o’er the face of the river.
His body was covered, though his face was unveiled
To take wing o’er the face of the river.
These lessons of death to the living so move
The Holy Spirit within as a river.

White Horse

Friday, March 4, 2011

LXVI. Golgotha Morning

Rifle hum heartbeat thrum
through the crooked trees
rising up like Golgatha’s
crooked teeth.

LXV. Wise Men

Wise men, thou art wicked,
For in this thing you boast:
The knowledge of knowledge above all knowledge,
Forgetting the least is the most.

LXIV. Days Like This We Spent My Friend

The days like this we spent my friend,
Smoke spewing dragons in the sun,
And poems and lores and epics and tomes
That else never saw light of day.
Days like this we spent my poet,
Conjuring up our worlds
Like gargoyles upon a Gothic spire,
Taking a smoke break in the sun.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

LXIII. Hawkfather

My Father appeared to me
In the form of a hawk
And spake unto me from
His throne of rock:

“My son, the time will come
When you must slay me
With your’n bare hands.
And when you have done this,
Take from my form a feather
To twine into your hair.
Then set me upon a pyre,
And let my smoke rise unto the heavens.”

Saying this, he alit to the sky once more.

And I wept, for I was all alone.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Days of Pagan Thunder: Osceola

My man heart has been broken Great Father,
And I must pass away.
I did that which I felt in my heart,
And now I pass away.
Why my father hast thou left me?
I die all alone.
I lay my head to slumber forever,
But I am not out for long.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Days of Pagan Thunder: Weyland

With iron great bands have I twisted
And wrought all that I’ve been given
Until all I’ve been given I’ve twisted
Into immeasurable shape.

With forcible sinew I’s twisted
And forced to beg what others’re given
Until all of my iron being twisted
I‘s given to violence and rape.

Woe is my iron now twisted!
Woe ‘to the urges I’ve given!
As the iron and my body lie twisted
So does my soul stand agape.

Friday, February 18, 2011

LXII. Swan

White swan rise above black sky,
Leaving the burning plains.
Fly you to your mother and sisters,
To your father up above.
As the land rises up in flames,
Take you to the sky.
For you do not belong here
In the blackness and the ruin.
You belong in Eden,
Or unfettered from the ark.
Across the face of the deep with your sisters,
Bearing all the winds,
To Cuchulainn in the south.

White swan leave the black land
To your lover up above.

LXI. Gun

The cloud sky was marbled,
The cumulous sinew of the angels descending.
The sun cut the gloom in shellshot scatter
As snow awkwardly straggled along.
The sky was black and blue and white,
Drapes ripped apart or rending.
The snow crawled out from under the sun,
And the sun hid itself again
The warcloud of the angels ascending,
The day I got my gun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LX. They That Have Been Broken

They that have been broken
Are they that have been raised
For just as was with Lazarus
They have seen the night then day.

LIX. The Pitiful Snow

It tries to snow
As a wounded deer
Scrambling and scared
From the roadside.
Would that I could
Take mercy upon you,
Would that I could take mercy.

The pitiful snow breaks my heart.

Monday, February 14, 2011


LVIII. Birdsong Sunrise

For Jenny Anne, my Valkyrie

Birdsong sunrise,
over these hills unto mine eyes
like my Valkrie rises.
She rises as the sun, clothed in light,
yea, my Valkyrie arises.
With babes about her garlanded,
and swaddled to her breast,
as the sun she rises.
The birds, they sing as angels,
the birds they sing for she.
Like my sun she rises,
My Valkyrie to me.


I have seen the blackness,
Yea, I have seen the crows.
Yet I have seen the valley
Where within my lover grows.

I have seen the valley,
The valley of Hamon Gog.
Therein lay the bodies
Littered by my wrongs.

Yet I have seen the sunrise
Lifting o’er the dark
And my lover astride a white horse
Bearing the Savior’s mark.

Friday, February 4, 2011

LVII. Flocks

As far up as the birds go,
They of a flock fly together.
Over the buildings and under the clouds
They of the same dark feather,
Regarding not the weather.

As high up as the Tower rose,
They of one flock smote it together.
Until the Lord uttered the words
Dividing flocks and feathers,
And they scattered hither and thither.

As high up as the tide goes
The flocks they stay together,
Perpetrating wrongs and rights
To others and one another,
The flocks of the fallen together.

LVI. Cold Night

Water frozen tendril trees,
Wind lines razor face,
My air bursting forth to gust, a warhorse nostril flaring.

Orion a sparkling jewel,
Winking salacious at Selene,
She pulls aside her black cloak and light beknights her bosom.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chief Joseph

LV. They Brake Upon Us

Spears brake upon the shields
As waves buck upon the stone.
Glittering shining shards and slivers
Splinter as yellowed bone.

They thrust a wave upon us,
Then another do they roll,
But they, they brake upon us,
Their spirits rattled with the toll.

Beards bespittled we besmirch them
To try their luck once more,
And once more they brake upon us
As the waves upon the shore.

They thrust a wave upon us,
Then another do they throw,
But they, they brake upon us,
And within our fire grows.

Let your spears come hither!
Throw at us what ye will!
Ever shall we slight you,
Safe our Keep upon the hill!

They thrust a wave upon us,
Then another rolls in gold,
But they, they brake upon us,
As the wheat falls to the stone.

LIV. I Will Lead My People Home

Great Father up above me,
help me lead my people home.
Wrapped in the wools of our fathers, I will lead them home.
From the clan of Mannanan, to the confederacy of the Iroquois, to the Norse, the Gaelic,the Saxon, the Cherokee, the crow and the hawk, the battle axe and tomahawk,
I will lead us home.

I turn to see my Norse goddess wrapped in the wools of my people,
stripes of my clan and lines of my tribe about her.
Crow feathers in her hair,
her eyes cerulean and her countenance Valkyrian,
she smiles as I lead her home.
I look upon my children, they of my tribe ascending,
for them I go on,
they laugh up at me as I lead them home.

Now in the silence,
they aslumber in the wake of the fire,
Great Father up above me,
I ask of you,
help me lead my people home.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

LIII. That Which is Written Upon my Heart

I speak not that which appeals to the righteous,
Nor that which appeals to the humanist,
But I speak that which is written upon my heart.

LII. Fire

The edge of the mountains rips the sky
And the sky bleeds fire.

The air crackles with cold and burns the lungs
Burns the lungs like fire.

The dragons encircle the earth in a ring
Within a ring of fire.

The humans lose faith and feast on flesh
Under a halo of fire.

God looks on and trembles not
For He created fire.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jed's Place (The Kingdom of Middle Tennessee)

LI. The Kingdom of Middle Tennessee

Hawk in tree
Watching over the kingdom
Of Middle Tennessee
Over behemoth bones
Of stone cut roads
Lined with white crosses where he fell

Hawk on wing
Signals of peace to bring
Over wind stripped trees
Scratching at the breeze
Deep within the kingdom
Of Middle Tennessee

Hawk Cherokee
Flying over the kingdom
Of Middle Tennessee
Over deep pitted sadness
Cold tombstones and madness
Over the land we love and sorrow

Hawk, now sing
His spirit for to bring
Cover broken hearts
The death that tore apart
The children in the kingdom
Of Middle Tennessee


The god fell far from home.
Hawk, bring his spirit home.
Over red rivers and tobacco fields
Over the smoky mountains
And clashing shields,
To the pine and his childhood river
Unto your brother crow
His spirit to deliver.
Hawk, bring the young god home,
That in death he may not rest alone.

L.Praise for the Pine

Praise for the pine
Atop the ridge
That overlooks the windswept gulch
For it has risen
Atop the ridge
In forbearance before we were born

Praise for the snow
That under pine lays
A blanket that covers the earth
For this snow
Every year knows
Its young son pine again