The poet relies on his faith
in English and calls words out of random air
with an intuitive knowledge
that the word he needs
will scroll next on the page.
He calls one to soothe, one to meditate,
one to proclaim, one to challenge...
The shaman sings chants long-memorized
and has become a part of him
as he calls guide angels to aid his journey
to soothe and retrieve lost souls,
negotiate with recalcitrant spirits,
battle evil demons.
He calls one to guide, one to conduct etiquettes,
one to be his shield, one to be his lance...
How sad for the modern Hmong poet
who has no shaman calling
and the old Hmong shaman who can't master
the new language.
The poet--a natural successor
who can't inherit. The shaman--
a prophet without apprentice.
What a shaman poet would be like--
singing old chants and creating new songs,
summoning angels, negotiating with spirits,
fighting demons old and new,
in Hmong and English--
We can only imagine.