The Archibald Rutledge Prize

Dennis Ward Stiles


Pelican Mantras

1. The feather is more than a hair.

The feather is more than a fishscale.

2. God created the water

and filled it with food.
Fish rise. I eat them.

3. God created air, rocks

dead trees.
I fly through his breath

4. There is no beak like my beak.

Come over here, gulls
sandpipers, herons, crabs.

5. Try, you others, to splash

the way I splash.
You are skimmers and dippers.

6. Blessed is the leader in flight.

Blessed are the first and last to follow.
Blessed alone, blessed together.

7. Break open my eggs, enemies.

I have hidden others.
Even my eggs
have the wisdom of grandfathers.