David Shook – Lyrics for Herbs & Cures…


David Shook
Lyrics for Herbs & Cures to Accompany the Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis
Versions after the Guerrero Nahuatl recitations by Silvestre Adán

for Bloody Saliva

My gums leak blood &
the tiny ocean of my spit
is cast with miniature red nets.
Two bird-stones cracked
over the heated blood-rocks
of the Balsas’ banks.
Add turquoise’s gritty dust,
red mother-of-pearl.
Crush the root of the blood-remedy
& the leaves of the spiny bush,
white frankincense, any plant
small-tipped & ruddy.
Monkey bones — since
the monkeys are dead —
should be ground into
the thickening broth then
sipped until the dog’s pink
saliva clarifies to man’s.



for Bloodshot Eyes

Shit yourself.
Sleep until the moon crescents
& the body of your shit shrivels.
Grind the dried shit into
powder — a powder fine as ash.

Pour it in your eyes!
Pour the dried shit in your eyes!

Blink the powdered shit under
your eyelids, cry!

Pour it in your eyes!
Pour the dried shit in your eyes!



Medicine to be put into the nostrils

White herb, white herb,
I whisper your name as I
muddle you in water,
as I massage your leaves,
sour the pot with your juices.

Headache-man: huffer of dust,
faller from your bed,
turn up your beating head,
your throbbing head & I’ll drip
this tincture up your nose,
a healing snot trickling up
toward the brain.



Marks of Death

The dying learn the dead’s tongue:
a babbling in the way of parrots.

Their teeth powder, they grind them,
they are dirty.

The tongue goes cold.

The nose grows thin,
& pointed like a rod.

The cheeks stiffen.

The eyes cloud, darken,
& little is seen.

The crown of the head grows cold,
then sinks, to make a bed for death.