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The Old Neanderthal Shaman Muses

Not by club, we'd have beaten them,
their males are weaker than even our girls.
Twenty chiefs ago we first saw them.
We made a line against them,
but they could throw their spears,
ours were only for jabbing.
They kept beyond our thrusts.
And they spoke so many words
and made noises like the birds;
they called these noises music.
We ran from the words. We ran from the music.
We ran from the spears that could be thrown from afar.
Valleys, rivers, many caves, we ran from them.
But always they reappeared.
They turned the bear spirit against us.
They sent bad magic into our caves.
Our hunters got the burning brows.
Though deer and mammoths were everywhere,
we shivered too much to bring back meat.
I chanted to the great bear, danced
but my chants and dance were not as strong
as their music and many words.
I made tea from the magic plants,
but the bear and plant spirits no longer listened.
Next our women could not pull up roots;
evil spirits sucked the milk from their breasts.
All our little ones died.

Now I alone tend the sacred fire.
On the last sun they finally came close,
within the thrust of our spears.
But I had not the strength to lift one,
nor even the strength to do the dance that drives wolves
I just chanted. They surrounded me.
I saw their spears, all well chipped, better than ours.
They look like us, but are ugly, very ugly.
One of their women sat next to me.
Her face so flat; her forehead straight above her eyes.
She touched my hair, playing like a little child.
She spoke many words, and made whistles like a bird.
I was afraid. More evil magic.
I held up the sacred bear skull. They ran.
Now these creatures wait in the woods like wolves.
Their shaman dances outside this cave.
He holds up many skulls; my magic will soon fail.
Our cave will be theirs. I will die soon. They know this.
After, they will eat my brain and steal the last of our magic.
I hear my people call me. I hear them
in the wind that sings in the cave.
I am coming.
I can't live in a world so ugly.

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