At the Tent of Heaven cover photo
  • Series: Modern & Contemporary 24
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-916272-24-1
  • ISBN-10: 0-916272-24-9
  • Pages: 60
  • Size: 6 x 8.5 x 0.3125 in
  • Price: $9.95

At the Tent of Heaven

Phillip St. Clair

St. Clair’s poems in At The Tent of Heaven are twenty-two portraits of Native Americans. The poems are ordered, St. Clair says, “to represent displacement by the whites, the persistence and continuation of Native beliefs, and an ultimate spiritual transcendence.” Reading these poems is like reading history of great importance—the lives of an Ioway Chief, a Chippewa Warrior, the wives of Red Jacket, Red Jacket himself, his daughters. But St. Clair’s goal wasn’t to retell Native American history, rather to retell and uncover human truths. The poems present themselves like a wall of photographs, each photo with its own story. St. Clair’s words and images give sight and sound to language, and these poems talk. In 1986, Ahsahta Press published another collection by Philip St. Clair, Little-Dog-of-Iron.


The full text of Philip St. Clair’s At the Tent of Heaven is stored at Albertson Library at Boise State University, and can be downloaded here. You may also purchase a copy of the book.

Red Jacket


January 1807


For three days snow has given flesh

To air. Men and women walk through it

And disappear. Often I see Brothers

Who have gone, and when I go to them

They are someone else.


Tell me, Spirit, why this winter

Turns my brain. Tell me, Spirit,

Why my heart grows damp

By the fire, at the lap

Of my wife.


No face is sure. Snow

Covers gametracks, makes the forest

Still, as if before battle. My ears

Ring from quiet. Not even children

Can break it.


Here comes a Brother, who fell

By the clubs of enemies, whose skull

Was caved in when we were young.

I know he is dead, yet my heart races

And my arms reach to him.


Copyright © 1984 by Philip St. Clair

Phillip St. Clair author photoPhilip St. Clair is the author of four books of poetry. His poems have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Gettysburg Review, Harper’s, Poetry Review [London], Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council and was awarded the Bullis Prize from Poetry Northwest. He lives with his wife Christina in the Appalachian mountains of Carter County, Kentucky. Ahsahta Press published another collection by Philip St. Clair, Little-Dog-of-Iron, which appeared in 1986.