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Kiowa Timepiece Talking Blues

Words and Music: © 2004 by Tom Smith
Part of the 24-Hour Project. Keywords: Kiowa, time; style: talking blues.

Well, most American Indian tribes
Never paid much attention all their lives
To time beyond the rise and set of the sun.

Some tribes, like kiowa, kept some track,
Painting pictographs on the hide from the back
Of a buffalo -- that's how their calendar begun.

Now there was one, of middling fame,
And no one alive can pronounce his name
But it translated roughly in English to "chaser of time".

He noticed how long different woods would burn,
How long till wet mud would dry to an urn,
And he wanted to figure out nature's reason and rhyme.

See, everyone knew it took longer, say,
To give birth to a life than to take it away,
But it never occurred to them to maybe ask "Why".

Why are there different seasons for blossoming flowers,
Why is meat cooked in minutes while bread can take hours,
Why does winter come when the sun's lower in the sky?

So Chaser of Time went to Devil's Tower,
New Mexico, only that's what we call it -- our
young hero called it "Bear Butte", a name that I prefer

He sacrificed to the Great Spirit and cried,
"I would understand movement and stasis and tide
Please explain how these different times will always occur."

Well, he got on his knees and he lowered his head,
And the next thing you know, a huge voice said,
"All things have their own way, and their own speed.

"The rabbit is swifter than the fox, it is said,
'Cause if he was not, then he'd be dead,
You can learn these patterns if only you will take heed.

"The secrets of time and the universe
Are only a blessing and not a curse
Just remember your place in the wondrous cosmic All.

"Now listen closely and write this down"
But chaser of Time gave a terrible frown,
And said "I can't write" -- and the Spirit said, "Damn. Sorry, y'all."

So that's why the Kiowa don't have clocks,
Why they lived in caves and their tools were rocks
And why you can't hardly find one today, and they are missed.

But they had one advantage, ignoring time,
To figure out nature's reason and rhyme,
They had to feel it -- while we just look at our wrist.

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