Friday, April 24, 2009

A month of (Native) poetry #4

Fourth installment to honor National Poetry Month, and all those brilliant Native poets out there!

The first, really, the first line still rings in my ears, like an anthem. "Today, I am more native than yesterday..."

And I promise it's not just because she's a fellow Tlingit, and Raven moiety as well! The whole subject of the poem is really only something I've begun to understand in the last few years, "And my heart spoke a purpose in my life,/of seeking integrity in myself..."

It's the kind of poem that you have to think on for a few hours, or a few years, and really let it sink into your life. The rhyme scheme isn't that strong, maybe, but it is easy to ignore because of the quite peaceful, and strong, words she writes.

The second messed with my mind a little, so I thought I'd share. It kind of reminded me of my Intro to Philosophy class, when the professor showed us the french painting of an apple, with the words painted across it, "This is not an apple."

Moses is a Canadian First Nations member, I believe.


Today, I am more native than yesterday,
I didn't hurry so fast, running from my past,
I sat real still when I was alone,
didn't have to call someone on the phone,
listening to the silence until my head heard,
my heart speaking to me....
And my heart spoke of purpose in my life,
of seeking integrity in myself,
of walking a solitary path of peace,
seeking harmony instead of wealth,
of seeing the strength in a prayer,
sharing with my children the power there,
of honoring everything that is alive,
being one with nature, not strife....
On this journey I walk,
my heart continues to talk,
turning me into what I was born this day,
for I am more Native than yesterday....

- Melody Jackson

The Line

This is not the poem, this line
I'm feeding you. And the thought
that this line is not the poem
is not it either. Instead
the thought of what this line is not is
the weight that sinks it
in. And though this image of
that thought as a weight is quite
a neat figure of speech, you
know what it's not
this time let the line smoothly
arc to this spot, and now lets
it reach down to one other,
one further rhyme
of which almost does measure
up, the way it keeps the line
stirring through the dampening
air. Oh, you know you can hear
the lure in that. As you know
you've known from the start the self
referring this line's doing
was a hook bit of wit that made you look
and see how clear it is no
part of this line or its gear
could be the poem. Still it cast
and kept the line reeling out
till now at last the hook's on
to itself and about to
tie this line I'm feeing you
up with a knot. Referring
to itself has got the line and us nowhere. So clever's
not what the poem is about
either. We're left hanging there
while something like a snout starts
nudging at your ear, nibbling
near my mouth
it's the poem about to take
the bait. From the inside ought
to be a great way to learn
what the poem is. And we'll use
this line when the poem's drawn it
taut and fine as breath to tell
what we know, where we are and
where we'll go
breaks. How would it feel, knowing,
at last, what the poem really
is, to lack the line to speak?

- Daniel David Moses

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with having the word native in parenthesis, I believe this implies that natives are not poets.

Thanks for the indirect racism!