The Snail Shells of Pyramid

Let us take the family to the lake.

Noxious Weeds of Washoe


Focusing on unhealthier practice

we found ourselves out in the garden’s weeds.

Our gloved hands deep within Dyer’s Woads,

to pull and pull roots of Hoary Crests.

These noxious military trespassers

Similar to battle that became us

here between Mountain Grass and Fountain Grass.

This or needing St. John’s Wort for a cure.

If neither of us look up eye to eye?

The Sun?  Or African Mustard and Rue,

Star Thistle, Mayweed, or Water Hemlocks.

I notice in your hair, by ear, a fly,

you say “to Pyramid Lake with our few,

to play in the waves and climb massive rocks.


Pyramid’s Small Limpets


After a sudden change of forward push,

our children run onto hot snail shell sand,

a lake on Nevada’s Old Paiute land,

these still ancient waters here to nourish.

To start a collection, Pyramid snails,

empty husks, Mollusca Gastropeda.

Shadowed pyramids of worn down tufa,

to collect each broken shell in our pail.

Aztec moon god Tecciztecatl’s crowns

adorned jewels of gold on spiral crest,

to gaze upon collecting lost shelter,

to translate dulled speech from many bird sounds,

“and so you stay until you turn to dust,”

eaten by birds and dried by the swelter.


Home to Northern Paiute


We all swim in water close to the beach

away from Paiute Cui Cui Ticatta,

the dark blue depth of Fugue and Toccata

where Cut Throat trout are far out of our reach.

Our mysterious water babies swim,

their ears underwater could not hear curses,

the rhetoric of goodbye in our verses,

to play in the waves with each random whim.

This water holds a curse within it’s myth,

a mermaid fell in love with one Paiute,

the tribe could not accept her as woman.

A Foul air spoken from watery cliff,

a cause for Fremont’s carnage to take root.

A party of Two’s anger to summon.


Home to Owens Valley Paiute


Iamb’s love poems, not poems of war,

the memory of war, ghosts of violence,

drunken swimmer, raid party bodies dense,

will ripple with our movement to the shore.

The children stop to examine litter

as their weight pushes each foot into sand,

to step off the beach onto solid land,

to disrupt branches, as lizards skitter.

We waring parties, tufa towering

formations away, to use as our height,

to look down upon casualties of play.

To reach each rock, a new discovering,

a path, a cone to lead us out of sight,

our feet upon this broken glass like clay.


Home to Southern Paiute


My oldest son moves just beyond the roam,

my youngest tries to grip the rough limestone

tufa, to hold my daughter’s feet, alone

to porous homes of ancient diatom.

This tufa firm foundation, to grab hold,

of my family’s deep alkaline waters,

supersaturated by Calcite wars,

silent Calcium Salt stories are told.

The same tufa barrage seen in Europe

around Matlock in United Kingdom

or western Australia’s Southwestern coasts.

Tufa guards our children’s families, our hope,

each porous hole counted to a great sum,

a symphony of voices, Paiute ghosts.


Closing Statements


Our unions strain remains above the air.

Our return home has only brought silence

a temporary break from violence,

the violence of marriage turned to war.

Some beauty, like the beauty of the lake,

derives from creation of history,

from moments that seem to erode away

the ground once stood on for erosions sake.

So still, surrounded by trespassing weeds,

to forget the snail shells under our feet,

to forget creation myth of tufa,

or our footprints in the sand by the reeds.

To check buoyancy of our family float,

as I stare at desert sunset in awe.

Jamie Lee Hamann

My name is Jamie Lee Hamann and I have a passion for writing short fiction and poetry.I currently live in Washoe Valley NV with my family.I am excited to share my poetry and my writing and I hope that you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.

Latest posts by Jamie Lee Hamann (see all)


Jamie Lee Hamann

My name is Jamie Lee Hamann and I have a passion for writing short fiction and poetry. I currently live in Washoe Valley NV with my family. I am excited to share my poetry and my writing and I hope that you enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing.

5 thoughts on “The Snail Shells of Pyramid

  • September 18, 2016 at 1:40 AM

    Ahhh! Yes, I know each part, legend and ghostly haunts of Pyramid Lake. The wars fought out there have left spirits lingering in sorrow. Oh, those shells, I love them. I have several jars full of tiny shells bleached white. I use them for necklaces for the tiny Paiute-like dolls I make. I will bring one to you should we meet up with plans for readings.

    I love this poem, Jamie. Well done!

    Sad that marriage turns to war, Jamie. So sorry to know that.

  • September 18, 2016 at 2:07 AM

    Beautifully and intricately described, both history and experience in your nature home. How emotively you translate life and memories into such poetic lines. Lovely work Jamie. Kudos.

  • September 18, 2016 at 6:38 AM

    Jamie , This is a pretty amazing journey , your writing for lack of a better term , takes us on a beautiful and soulful journey ! Great stuff !………..;-]

  • September 19, 2016 at 1:38 AM

    This was such interesting writing on a very unique subject. Well done, Jamie.

  • September 19, 2016 at 5:34 AM

    I love the way you bring history, myth, past and present together in one beautiful harmonious whole with emotions of joy, sadness and the wonder of nature woven through it. Beautiful, thank you!


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