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john smelcer

Anger Managment

A man wanted to control his anger,
so frightful even grizzly bears feared him.

A shaman told him to insult and beat a log
with a stick until he was exhausted.

When the weary man returned and asked,
“What lesson have I learned?” the shaman replied,

______________“Be like the log.”

(Literally “The man who gets angry”)

Koht’aene ts’akut’eh,
tsaani lii koht’aene.

C’ededliinen koht’aene yaa nitezet ‘eł tson decen
kae sen xał k’e tsaa.

Koht’aene na’idyaa ‘eł yaa
“Yidi uzadalts’et?” c’ededliinen yaa,

______________“Cic’uunen decen.”

John Elvis Smelcer is one of the founding editors, and poetry editor, of Rosebud magazine, about to release its 50th consecutive quarterly issue in March. Smelcer is a Clifford D. Clark Fellow in English at Binghamton University in upstate New York. Smelcer is one of the last speakers on earth of the Ahtna Athabaskan language, an endangered Alaska Native language. Only 20 or so elders, all 30-50 years older than John, still speak the language.