Death and Transfiguration   Wednesday, April 27, 2016





This  week's  title has something to do with my photos, old and worn our and near death, transfigured by a tasteful  application of computer wigettry. But mostly it has to do with Strauss's tone poem by that  name which I love and which I happen to be listening to  while trying to think of a title for the post. Plus, always glad to give a shout-out to Richard Strauss.

In addition to a bit of my own stuff, I have another anthology this week, Harper's Anthology of  20th Century Native American Poetry. The  book was published by Harper Collins in 1988.

I enjoy reading poets who  come from groups who have typically received  little or no notice from the larger culture. That's not to say, these groups did not always have their own poetry, often coming from an oral tradition, only that it  existed at a level not apparent to  the  larger community. What has happened in the past is that one or two or a  few poets get wide attention and become very successful and the success they achieve and the attention it  brings to their group exposes other poets and encourages new poets to write. That is what happened that  created what is called the Native American Renaissance, a term coined in 1983 by critic Kenneth Lincoln.



Me
slant-eyed morning

Simon J. Ortiz
Bend in the River

Me
I'd rather believe in string theory

Louis (Little Coon) Oliver
Empty Kettle

Me
four sparrows

Mary Tallmountain
Matmiya

Me
the curse of future-sight

Roberta Hill Whiteman
Reaching Yellow River

Me
like a turtle

Louise Erdrich
Family Reunion

Me
on the dark side of the moon

Peter Blue Cloud
Turtle

Me
a revelation

Lance Henson
Solitary
Day Song
Grandfather
At Chadwick's Bar and Grill
Coyote Fragments
Near Twelve Mild  Point

Me
so proud of his despair

Barney Bush
Taking a Captive/1984

Me
empty streets

Roy A. Young Bear
From the Spotted Night

Me
storm riders

Gerald Vizenor
Shaman Breaks

Me
the next turning

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
Journey

Me
the morning holds its  breath

Me
surely the words are there 












From last week, here's my first poem for this week.














slant-eyed morning

on the dim streets
of colorless barely dawn
people  who get up early
look out the corner of their eyes
at  other people who get up early

slant-eyed mornings
when one can't be sure
all the dark-night terrors
have returned to the secrets
of their shadow-lairs

all
the human kind
take care
until the true sun
rise







One of the most important  and  best known contributors to the Native American Renaissance is Simon J. Ortiz.

Ortiz, born in 1941, an Acoma poet, short fiction writer, essayist and a documentary and feature film writer is a native of the Acoma  Pueblo Community in Albuquerque. Schooled within the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Acoma Reservation, he attended the University of Iowa where he enrolled in the International Writing Program and  received a masters degree in writing. Recipient of many awards ad honors, he has  taught Native American literature and creative writing at San Diego State University and the University of New  Mexico.







Bend in the River

Flicker flies by.
His ocher wing
is tied  to prayer  sticks.
Pray for mountains,
the cold strong shelter.

Sun helps me to see
where Arkansas River
ripples over pebbles,
Glacial stone moves slowly;
it will take a while.

A sandbank cuts sharply
down to a poplar log
buried in damp sand.
Shadow lengths tell me
it is afternoon.

There are tracks
at river's edge, raccoon,
coyote, deer, crow,
and now my own.

My sight follows
the river upstream
until it bends.
Beyond the bend
is more river
and, soon, the  mountains.
We shall  arrive,
to  see, soon.












And another from last week.














I'd rather believe in string  theory

pictures  of customers from Walmart, which, having seen,
you can never un-see,
a regular Facebook feature, a modern "Ripley's Believe it or Not"
of the grotesque
proving
with not a doubt in my mind
the validity of
string theory and the existence
of alternate universes

I must believe that
else I am required to  accept that the pictures
are of actual people from my
actual time
and of my own actual 
universe

I'd rather believe in string theory...










One of  the earliest  poets in the book is  Louis (Little Coon) Oliver.

Oliver was  a  Creek Indian, descendant of the Golden Raccoon Clan of Alabama, was born in 1904 in Oklahoma and was still living in Oklahoma when the anthology was  published. He died in 1991.











Empty Kettle

I do not waste  what  is wild
I only take what my cup
     can hold.
When the black kettle gapes
     empty
and children  eat roasted acorns
     only,
it is time to rise up early
     take no drink - eat no  food
     sing the song of  the hunter.
I see the Buck - I chant
I chant the deer chant:
     "He-hebah-Ah-kay-kee-n!
My arrow, no woman has ever touched
     finds its mark.
I open the  way for the blood to  pour
     back  to Mother Earth
          the debt I  owe.
My soul rises - rapturous
     and I sing a different song,
          I sing.
          I sing.












These are the same sparrows from a poem last week, plus two more who  learned of the morning handout.













four sparrows

four sparrows
on the window sill this morning,
the regular two,
the silver-templed Bride of Frankenstein
and her rumpled mate,
and two  friends, in-laws maybe, cousins, or bowling buddies,
huddled together
apparently discombobulated by last night's hail storm
that tore through the trees,
carpeting the parking lot with leaves

as with  humans after disaster,
last night seems to have brought them together
into a close cluster of brown and gray,  the co-dependency
of all  creatures in the face of  common thread
demonstrated once
again...

they stand close on the  ledge,
taking turns
picking up cookie crumbs,
feeding it to one  of the others,
after-disaster feast shared
by bedraggled
survivors










Another early poet from the anthology is Mary Tallmountain.

Tallmountain was born Mary Demonski in the interior of Alaska in 1918 of Athabaskan-Russian and Scotch-Irish ancestry.










Matmiya

for my grandmother

I see you  sitting
Implanted by roots
Coiled deep  from your thighs.
Roots, flesh  red, centuries  pale.
Hairsprings wound tight
Through fertile earthscapes
Where each  layer feeds the next
Into depths immutable.

Though you must rise, must
Move large and slow
When it is  time, O my
Gnarled mother-vine, ancient
As vanished ages,
Your spirit remains
Nourished ,
Nourishing me.

I see your figure wrapped in skins
Curved into  a mound of earth
Holding your rich dark  roots.
Matmiya,
I see you sitting.












Most people finished in 4 years. With interruptions, it took me 10. This might explain part of the reason.













the curse of future-sight

I suffered in my early university years
from an unfortunate
ability
to see the future, to  know for certain
that at no point in my future
would I ever have a need to know
the various parts of a lady bug, or a cricket,
or a Bangladeshi dung beetle,
just as I knew equally well that I would never need to know
the periodic table or the cosign of quadruple  davits
times one thousand three hundred and seven

and seeing the future thus
and knowing that at least two thirds of my every day
at university was a complete waste of time
that would never be returned to me, time when
such lost time might be added
to the much too short one third of my time
that actually involved thinking actual new and creative
and  best of all, interesting thoughts...

I was a lousy student
I admit it

and something of an argumentative wise ass,
yes,
I have to plead to that too
but one thing
I knew
for certain - that I was smarter than the people trying to make me
smart...

there were other reasons it took me ten years 
to graduate from college,
good reasons,
I'm sure,
but also sure that the
above played some part in
it

(Notice how I put that little "it" right there on a line by itself. The poetry experts hate that, they just really, really hate it, probably have some kind of fancy negative-sounding name for it, but I like it so I do it anyway, probably a throwback to my earlier college career and the reason now I'll never graduate out of poetry college in my lifetime and that of my male and female descendants unto the third generation yet to come. Even at this late age still I insist on pissing-off the professors)









Next from the anthology, this longer poem by Roberta Hill Whiteman.

Born in 1947 in the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, Whiteman is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and is recipient of numerous awards and honors for her work.












Reaching Yellow River

in memory of Mato Henlogeca's  grandson

"It isn't a game for girls,"
he said, grabbing a fifth
with his right hand,
the wind with his left.

"For six days
I raced Jack Daniels.
He cheated, told jokes.
Some weren't even  funny.

That's how he come to won.
It took a long time
to reach the Yellow River
I'm not yet thirty,

or it is thirty-one?
Figured all my years
carried the same hard thaw.
Out here, houselights hid

deep  inside the trees.
For a while i believed this road
cut across to Spring Creek
and I was trucking home.

I could kid you now,
say I ran it clean,gasping on one lung,
loaded by a knapsack

of distrust and hesitation.
I never got the  tone
in all the talk of cure.
I sang Honor Songs, crawled

the railroad bridge to Canada.
Dizzy from the ties,
I hung between both worlds.
Clans of blackbirds circled

the nearby maple trees.
The dark heart of me said
no days more than  these.
As sundown kindled the sumacs,

stunned by the river's smile,
I had no need for heat,
no need to feel ashamed.
Inside me then the sound

of burning leaves. Tell them
I tumbled through a gap  on the horizon.
No, say I stumbled through a hummock
and fell  in a pit of stars

When rain weakened my stride,
I heard them singing
in a burl of white ash
took a few more days to rave

at them in this wood.
then their appaloosa snickered
in the dawn and they came
riding down a close ravine.

Though the bottle was empty,
I still hung on. Fox tails beat
the grimace  from  my brow
until I took off my pain

like a pair of old boots.
I became a hollow horn filled
with drain,  reflecting everything.
The wind in my hand

burned cold as hoarfrost
when my grandfather nudged me
and called out
my Lakota name."












This is from earlier this year, another one that I set aside that  looks better now than it did when I set it aside.















like a turtle

like a turtle
on a flat  rock
in a frothing, rushing
stream,
the closer I get
to going someplace
I wanted so to go, the
less I want to
go there

the grass
being greener
until I decide to graze there

not the fence -
but the quickly eroding fancy

which
is why, like a turtle, 
I hardly ever go anywhere
and when I do
it takes me forever to get there










 Next from near the end of the anthology, poet Louise Erdrich.

Erdrich, born in 1954, is an Ojibwa member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. She writes poetry, novels and children's books featuring Native American characters and settings.

This poem is an example of the storytelling tradition that I love and that is central to so much Native American poetry.











Family Reunion

Ray's third new  car in half as many years.
Full cooler in the trunk, Ray sogging the beer
as I solemnly chauffeur us through the brush
and up the backroads, hardly cowpaths and hub-deep in
    mud.
All day the sky lowers,  clears, lowers again.
Somewhere in the brush near Saint John
there are uncles, a family, one mysterious brother
who stayed on the land when Ray left for the cities.
One week Ray is crocked.  We've been through this before.
Even, as a little girl, hands in my dress,
Ah punka, you's my Debby, come and ki me.

The the road ends in a yard full of dogs.
Them's Indian dogs, Ray says, lookit how  they know me.
And they do seem to know him, like I do. His odor  -
rank beef of fierce turtle pulled dripping from Metagoshe,
and the inflammable man smell:  hair tonic, ashes,alcohol.
Ray dances an old woman up in his arms.
Fiddles rel on the phonograph and I sink apart
in a corner, start knocking the Blue Ribbons down.
Four generations  of people live here.
No one remembers Raymond Two Bears.

So what.The walls shiver, the house caulked with mud
sails back into the middle of Metagoshe.
A three-foot long snapper is hooked  on a trout line,
so mean that  we do not dare wrestle him in
but tow him to shore, heavy as an old engine.
The somehow Ray pries the beak open and shoves
down a cherry bomb. Lights the string tongue.

Headless and clenched in its armor, the snapper
is lugged home in a trunk for tomorrow's soup.
Ray rolls it beneath a bush in the backyard and goes in
to sleep his own head off. Tomorrow I find
that the animal has  dragged itself off.
I follow torn tracks  up a slight hill and over
into a small stream that deepens and widens into a marsh.

Ray finds his way back through the room into his arms.
When the phonograph stops, he slumps hard in his hands
and the boys and their old man fold him into the car
where he curls around his bad  heart, hearing how it knocks
and rattles in the bars of his ribs to break out.

Somehow we find our way back. Uncle Ray
sings and old song to the body that pulls his
toward home. the gray fins that his hands have become
screw their bones in the dashboard. His face
has the odd, calm patience of a child who has always
let bad wounds alone, or a creature that has lived
for a long time underwater. And the angels come
lowering their slings and litters.













Here's another from a couple of months ago.













on the dark side of the moon

the Apollo 10 astronauts
heard
music on the dark side of the moon

I read that today from recently
released NASA files

maybe Jimi or Janice
or Nelson  Eddie 
passing
by 
one last passage
of the dark
side
taking time  on the way
for one last gig,
their time  come to light the night,
to join the stars
who passed before, shining
still  in all their final
star-spangled
glory

~~~

Apollo 10 astronauts
heard music on the far side of the moon, they said,
where the stars at night
are big and
bright
deep in the heart of mystery

~~~

the Apollo  10 astronauts
reported hearing
music
on the dark  side of the moon...

I hope so










The next poet  from the Native American anthology is Peter Blue Cloud.

Blue Cloud, a Canadian Mohawk poet and folklorist was born in 1935 died in 2011. This poem is one of his best known.

What a wonderful tale this is, so wonderfully told.












Turtle

The  winds are dark passages among the stars,
leading to whirling void pockets
encircled by seeds of thought,
life force  of the Creation.
            I am turtle,
and slowly, my great flippers move
propelling my  body through space,
and  starflowers scatter crystals
which fall as mist upon my lidded eyes.
            I  am turtle,
of the ocean of my life swim
is a single chant in the Creation,
as I  pass others of my kind,
            my own, unborn and those,
the holy ancients of my childhood.

My swim is steady and untiring,
for great is the burden given me,
the praise and privilege of my eternity
rests upon my back as a single seed
to which I am guardian and giver.
              I am turtle,
and my tribes forever remain countless,
from the day I first raised my head
to gaze back upon the horn of my body,
              and my head was  a sun
              and Creation breathed life upon the seed
              and four times, and again four times,
              I wept for joy the birthing of my tribes,
              and chanted Creation the glory
of all these wondrous days.

The wrinkles and cracks upon this ancient shell
are the natural contours created
by he feel and request to burdened rock
and soil, blood and sustenance to
clans within clans,
              I am turtle,
and the earth I  carry is but
a particle in the greater Creation,
my mountains, plains and oceans
mere reflections in a vaster  sea
              Turtle I am called,
               and breathe clouds of rain,
               and turn slowly my body to seasons
               in cycle with my grandchild, Eagle,
               whose wings enfold thunder pulses,
                back to back, and
seldom meeting in time.

Patience was given  me by  Creation,
ancient song  on tomorrow's  wind
this chant that was taught my tribes
is now unsung by many clans
of a single  tribe,
                    and truly
such pains that exist for this moment,
which slay so many of the innocent
cannot but end in pain repeated
as all are reflected twins to self
                     I am turtle,
and await the council of my tribes
clan into clan, the merging thought
that  evil was never the star  path, and
then the chant to the four directions,
                    I am turtle,
and death is not yet my robe,
for drums still throb the many
centers of my tribes, and a young
child smiles me of tomorrow,
                    "and grandparent,"
another child whispers, "please,
tell  again my clan's beginning."















From last week.














a revelation

forever helpful
have I always been,
especially to old people,
open doors for them,
say thank you, 
please,
yes ma'am, yes sir,
and
every since
I was a young man
always made sure
I didn't park in the spaces
closest to the entrance
when going to the supermarket
or a restaurant or even to the mall,
thinking those spaces
ought to be left to the older folks
who might have trouble walking from
more distant parking places...

then, 
driving into the parking lot
of my favorite diner
this evening,
I first headed out to my usual
parking spot in the far corner,
near the discount furniture warehouse
and the hooch-koochi topless
bar, and the "Great Looks" beauty  parlor,
and the Church of Divine Debt Relief,
and the other place with a yellow and green
neon depiction of a reclining woman
with large  breasts on the window
by the door with a small  sign, "Good Rubs,"
my good 
deed  for the old
folks, I  was thinking, when,
it was  like a revelation
from the blue,
I  realized
I didn't need to leave a parking spot
close to the door for an older
person-because, by god, I am one
myself
and with that resonating
in my mind
I
parked my ass
right by the door

you betcha...










Next from the anthology I have  several shorter poems by Lance Henson.

Henson is a Cheyenne poet,  born in Washington D.C. in 1944, but raised in the traditions of the Cheyenne tribe by his grandparents in Oklahoma. He has published 28 volumes of poetry and has been translated into 25 languages.











Solitary

on a cold night
i forget the story of my birth

i forget the long fingers of sleep
the magic of names

to go alone

i begin by asking the winds
forgiveness


Day Song

perhaps on a sunday
like today
under the sound of a lone bell

perhaps in the brightest snow of the year
or in autumn
while the leaves are in their last clothes

someone will lie down
feeling in his  blood a singing wind
that in all his days
he has witnessed
only once

when dust  stopped on the shivering road
and looked into the mirror


Grandfather

grandfather
my heart looks toward  you
red sage of  sunset
evening star
the night hawk sings
your name




At Chadwick's Bar and Grill

a sky the color of a wren's breath
hangs over red clouds
hint of rain
and home is  dirt underfoot

tu fu and li po have
forgiven nothing
not waking  drunk under any moon
or the incessant  calling
of a loon
so waiting is the roses  own
signature
the spider catches a fly
at morning
whether i am there
or not


coyote fragments

1
he  is rust
         in moonlight

2
when the road man paused
         we heard our brother's voice

3
one track
                    in snow

4
eight without ears
hang upside down from fence posts
near hammon oklahoma

5
the moonlight splashes
         in their  eyes


near twelve mile point

for my grandparents

at times the heart looks toward open fields
and  sees itself  returning

orange pall of sun
the low  hymn of trees

in the garden
a north wind blows over dry stalks of corn
birds  gather there
scratching  over the echoing footsteps

you names
have become the dark feather

to whom the stars sing













This is a thing from February that I never got  around to using.















so proud of his despair

walking Bella
in the cold,  dim morning

thinking of the poet
at  last night's open mic

mumbling
dark and terrible visions
into his lap

so enamored
with life's blackest nights

so  captivated
by his misery

so proud
of his despair...







The next  poem is by Barney Bush.

 Barney Bush, despite what Wikipedia tried to tell me, is not the dog of George W. Bush.

This Barney Bush is a Shawnee/Cayuga  poet and indigenous activist born in 1946 in Herod, Illinois. With a BA from Fort Lewis College and an MA in English and fine arts from the University of Idaho. He is the author of a number of books and a music/spoken word recordings.










Taking a  Captive/1984

A light drizzle falling         off
and on for days
Kentucky hills          yellow leaves
matted to damp black          your pensive eyes in smokey hollows
My son         you are born by
mistake in another world where
your vision lingers too
long
too  long to reach those who
seek wisdom from the future
Three generations back         in
my village          you would be
painted          have a name
waylahskese
You would carry a flute of
polished cedar          inlaid with
finest abalone shell       bound
with soft white buckskin
On humid evenings I would hear
your cavernous melodies
rolling off limestone bluffs
above Spaylaway Theepi
You would grow into manhood
bringing fresh meat to the
door of your grandmothers
weegiwa          carry your
opahwahka in the oracle of
your heart
Stalking figures yet roam
shadows of colonial america
yet drawing breath          continuous
memory absorbed into blood
Your divorced tiger form spoors
its way to my heart         not as
a killer but as          one off grace
Here in my center         M'qua seeks
power to bring you home          sniffs
the air for winter
too soon          shemegana  pepoou
Your real name awaits
Come into your dreams        my young
captive          Hear the hawk shriek
as he soars outside your window
come into the lodge of winter
dreams          hibernate with the
bear.












If you like dim, dreary, soggy days, this one is for you. Actually I usually like that kind of day but I have to drive to Austin in a little bit and I'm not looking forward to it - crazy traffic on wet roads.














empty streets

empty streets
glisten,
the city bound
by mist and deep fog like the pretty girl
tied to the railroad track,
Snidely Whiplash
somewhere lurking,
smirking,
rubbing his little paws together
like a rat over a chunk
of soggy, dripping
cheese

```

a dreary Saturday
to wake up
to

even 
the tiny sparrows  seem
lethargic
as they gather round the cookie crumbs 
I left on the window sill

big storms
coming
and
I have to drive to Austin
in an hour








Next from the Native American  anthology is Ray A. Young Bear.

Born in 1950 on the Meskwaki tribal settlement in Iowa, Young Bear spoke Meskwaki as his first language until taught English by his grandmother. He is poet and novelist writing about contemporary Native American life in both languages.








From the Spotted Night

In the blizzard
while chopping wood
the mystical whistler
beckons my attention.
Once there were longhouses
here. A village.
In the abrupt spring floods
swimmers  retrieved our belief.
Their spirit remains.
From the spotted night
distant jets transform
inter fireflies who float
towards me like incandescent
snowflakes.
The leather shirt
which is suspended
on a wire hanger
above the bed's headboard
is humanless; yet when one
stands outside the house,
the strenuous sounds
of dressers and boxes
being moved can be heard.
We believe someone wears
the shirt and rearranges
the heavy furniture,
although nothing
is actually changed.

Unlike the Plains  Indian shirts
which repelled lead bullets,
ricocheting from them
in fiery sparks,
this shirt is the means;
this shirt is the bullet.












This is from last month, another wet day, a welcome wet day in a land of frequent drought.














storm  riders

misty wet this morning
but strong thunderstorms predicted,
sweeping across Mexico and the Gulf, beginning  this
afternoon and extending through the week,
inundating most of Texas, especially here
in the south where the first strong
winds and rain will pass

and I am here, looking out through the coffeehouse's
broad windows, waiting for Armageddon,listening
for the distant call of the Horsemen's trumpets,
the thunder of  the drums of their army
marching

and even though I  know there will be suffering for some, 
I look forward to the advancing pillage, a storm rider,
taunting the elements here from my protected
saddle, enjoying the ferocious  drama of its
passage

making me, I suppose, a kind of war lover,  a shameful
passion some say should shame me but I expect
I will not be embarrassed for I am a man
past his prime who has no use for
golf or the various spectator
sports that set an old
man's blood
a'churning

instead I will take my excitement wherever
I can find it, like here in my comfortable
seat where the thunder can rumble
but the lightning does not strike
and the wind does not
blow and the rain 
does not
fall







Gerald Vizenor is the next poet from this week's anthology. He was born in 1934 in Minnesota and is an Anishinaabe and an enrolled member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, White Earth Reservation. Author of more than 30 published books, he was director of Native American studies and is currently Professor Emeritus at the University of  California, Berkeley and Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico.











Shaman Breaks

1

colonists
unearth their wealth
and tease
the old stone man
over the breaks

moths batter
the cold windows
their light
in not our day

leaves abide the seasons
the last crows
smarten the poplars

2

tourists
discover their ruins
and mimic
the old stone woman
over the breaks

nasturtiums
dress the barbed wire
fences  down
down to the wild sea

magnolias
bloom under a whole  moon
words fall apart

3

soldiers
bleach the  landscapes
hound the shamans

wild stories
break from the stones













This is another piece I wrote earlier (February) and never used.














the next turning

spring's green canopy
spreads above my street
and that which seemed
so  dead reveals itself to have
only slumbered, the end
of all pushed aside
for a new beginning,
revealed
in the deep shadows
beneath the spreading
green...

outside
the cold winds of the season's
last norther, a last gasp, winter's
dark days remediated
by the blue umbrella
of this morning's clear bright
sky

a reminder of passing days,
leading as always to the
evolution, day by day, to
the something new we have
seen before and hope
to see again through the next
turning









This is the last poem from this weeks Native America anthology. It is by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn.


An editor, poet, essayist, novelist and academic, Cook-Lynn is a member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, born in 1930 on Crow Creek reservation in South Dakota and is graduate of the University of South Dakota.  She is considered an important presence in the discipline of Native American and Indigenous studies.











Journey

I.
Dream

                                                                       Wet, sickly
smells of cattle yard  silage fill the prairie air
far beyond  the timber; the nightmare only just
begun, a blackened cloud moves past the sun
to dim the  river's glare, a malady of modern times.
                                                                         We prayed
to the giver of prayers and traveled to the spirit
mounds we thought were forever; awake, we feared that
hollow trees no longer hid the venerable ones we were
    taught
to believe in

II
Memory

Dancers with cane whistles,
the prairie's wise and knowing kinsmen.
They trimmed their deer skins
in red down feathers,
made drum sticks from the gray grouse,
metaphorically speaking, and knocked on doors
which faced the East.
Dancers with cane whistles,
born under the sign of hollow  stems,
after earth and air and fire and water
you conjure faith to clear the day.
Stunningly, blessed you pierce the sky
with sound so clear each winged creature soars.

In my mind Grandmothers, those old partisans of faith
who long  for shrill and glowing rituals of the past,
recall  the times they went on long  communal
buffalo hunts; because of this they tell the
lithe and lissome daughters:

    look for men who know the sacred ways
    look for men who wear the white-striped quill
    look for dancers with cane whistles
    and seek the house for relatives to stay the night.

III
Sacristans

This journey though another world, beyond bad dreams
beyond the memories off a murdered generation,
cartographed in captivity by bare survivors
makes sacristans of us all.

The old ones go our bail, we oblate  preachers of our tribes.
Be careful, they say, don't hock the beads of
kinship agonies; The moire-effect of unfamiliar hymns
upon our own, a change in pitch or shrillness of the voice
transforms the waves of song to words of poetry or prose
and makes distinctions
no one recognizes.
Surrounded and absorbed, we treat like Etruscans
on the edge of useless law; we pray
to the givers of prayers, we give the cane whistle
in ceremony, we  swing the heavy silver chain
of incense burners. Migration makes
new citizens of Rome.












We're having a nice wet spring, almost too wet for some. Heavy rains last week with baseball sized  hail causing a lot of damage in parts of the city. It looks like more is coming this afternoon and the rest of the week.













the morning holds its breath

the morning
holds its breath
as storms gather in the west.
coming this way,  pushing ahead  warnings
of heavy rain, flash floods, hail, and general misery
for creatures, man or beast, without cover

people walk slow, cars that pass
on Broadway move as if thick, turgid air
is holding them back from their usual
pace, passing quietly through
the dense morning as if encased in
a prophylactic envelop

I've put the cookie crumbs
on the window sill as usual, but so far
my family of greedy sparrows
has not appeared, snugged away
in the strongest nest between the strongest limbs
of the strongest trees, waiting,
as the morning holds
its breath, for the big exhale that
will rock their arboreal
world












Here it is,  last for the week, written in desperation a couple of months ago.














surely the words are there

Bella waits for me in the car,
knowing by way of her inner clock
that's it's time for her  walk...

meanwhile
my poem for the day
is only those three lines above

and now the three that follow
that three...

it is a beautiful day and surely
there should be additional lines
beyond, again, these

I'm pretty sure the words are there
for they are, for better or worse, always
there

but I think I'll never find them
as long as the dog sits in the car staring...

I think it's time to walk the dog while the words
that surely are bubble and brew...

~~~~~

well,  hell, wrong again...

the poet who cannot poem...

like  the mighty Casey who has
struck out









As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and to me

Also as usual, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of this blog, and diligent seller of books, specifically these and specifically here:





Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad)

















Poetry

New Days & New Ways


Places and Spaces
 




Always to the Light






Goes Around Comes Around




Pushing Clouds Against the Wind





And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio




Seven Beats a Second






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer








                                                            
  Peace in Our Time

2 Comments:
at 1:18 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...


first 2 and 4th photos wonderful- wonderful poem below-

I enjoy reading poets who come from groups who have typically received little or no notice from the larger culture. That's not to say, these groups did not always have their own poetry, often coming from an oral tradition, only that it existed at a level not apparent to the larger community. What has happened in the past is that one or two or a few poets get wide attention and become very successful and the success they achieve and the attention it brings to their group exposes other poets and encourages new poets to write. That is what happened that created what is called the Native American Renaissance, a term coined in 1983 by critic Kenneth Lincoln.





slant-eyed morning

on the dim streets
of colorless barely dawn
people who get up early
look out the corner of their eyes
at other people who get up early

slant-eyed mornings
when one can't be sure
all the dark-night terrors
have returned to the secrets
of their shadow-lairs

all
the human kind
take care
until the true sun
rise







One of the most important and best known contributors to the Native American Renaissance is Simon J. Ortiz.

Ortiz, born in 1941, an Acoma poet, short fiction writer, essayist and a documentary and feature film writer is a native of the Acoma Pueblo Community in Albuquerque. Schooled within the Bureau of Indian Affairs on the Acoma Reservation, he attended the University of Iowa where he enrolled in the International Writing Program and received a masters degree in writing. Recipient of many awards ad honors, he has taught Native American literature and creative writing at San Diego State University and the University of New Mexico.







Bend in the River

Flicker flies by.
His ocher wing
is tied to prayer sticks.
Pray for mountains,
the cold strong shelter.

Sun helps me to see
where Arkansas River
ripples over pebbles,
Glacial stone moves slowly;
it will take a while.

A sandbank cuts sharply
down to a poplar log
buried in damp sand.
Shadow lengths tell me
it is afternoon.

There are tracks
at river's edge, raccoon,
coyote, deer, crow,
and now my own.

My sight follows
the river upstream
until it bends.
Beyond the bend
is more river
and, soon, the mountains.
We shall arrive,
to see, soon.


at 1:20 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

grate p;hotos this issue- a run of peak photos-

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