The Carver

you used to sit down in Victor Steinbrueck Park
with a piece of wood and carving knife
totem pole carver
it was the work of your life

your father was a carver before you
and your grandfather too
for seven generations
that’s what the boys in the family would do

and there were the fish in the wooden waters
and there were birds in the wooden sky
and the fish would swim
and the birds would fly

and sometimes in the afternoons
when all the work was done
maybe somebody had a drink and a smoke
maybe make a little fun

maybe joke about how white people make trouble
seems like that’s all they know how to do
you just never thought one of them
would make so much trouble you

it was a beautiful August afternoon
the kind that the fates unfold
a good day for a carver to go out in the world
and see what the wood might hold

and there you were slow walkin’
away in a reverie
when a cop came by lookin’ for trouble
and you were just what he wanted to see

he turned on his lights and pulled over
and he called you to come over here
but you were deaf in that one side, weren’t you
so you didn’t hear

he got mad and he said it again
with all the adrenalin starting to run
you had that knife in your hand
and he took out his gun

and the whole wide world shattered then
with every tuneless broken bell
and like a wounded bird you swooned
and like a dying bird you fell

they talked about it on the news the next day
they said you had a problem with the drink
they said you’d been in trouble with the law before
they were telling us what to think

the police chief came on the TV
he said we’ll get to the bottom of this in time
we’re investigating ourselves right now
we’ll let you know what we find

so I sit down in Victor Steinbrueck Park
with the gray clouds over head
and I wonder what kind of life you have to live
to not wind up that kind of dead

and I wonder how much money you have to have
and what color must be your skin
and what kind of world of trouble
have we gotten ourselves in

and I wonder how much more must have to be
before we see it clear
that there is no trouble coming
the trouble is already here