To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
.......................................again
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Friday, May 1, 2009

From A Seneca Journal: Midwinter (Part One)

A man who was a crow was traveling. He didn’t know where he had come from or which way he was going. As he moved along he kept on thinking: “How did I come to be alive? Where did I come from? Where am I going?”

THE HEADS

(1)
big

(2)
bushy

(3)
flying


STIRRING THE ASHES

sun bear
moon buffalo


4 SONGS OF THE DAWN SOCIETY

(1)
dawn

(2)
dawn

(3)
dawn

(4)
dawn


THE BEAR ROBE

had no claws


THE BUFFALO ROBE

was headless


MIDWINTER VISION

paddles & ashes


EVENTS

fire a rifle

.

touch the sun


THE BIG HEADS

husk shoes
husk belt
husk crown
bear snout


THE BIG HEADS SEND A MESSAGE:

HELLO / STAY CLEAN / DON’T BE CONFUSED
DON’T STEP ON THINGS WHEN MOVING
(signed) YOUR UNCLES


THE BEAR

his paw up
to the sun


THE BUFFALO

head covered
with flowers


BUFFALO PUDDING

like the mud
he stamps in


BEAR DANCE

snort
snort
berries


BUFFALO DANCE

sniff
sniff
mush


THE SYMBOL

pine branch
on men’s room wall
above
the thermostat

.

pine branch
on mask

[The preceding represents half of a series of short poems originally published in A Seneca Journal (New Directions, 1978) but dropped from circulation when a selection of poems from that volume was included in the author’s New Selected Poems. The midwinter poems derive from observations of ceremonies during a number of years of residence at the Allegany Seneca Reservation in western New York state. I was led through these by various Seneca friends & companions, but in particular by Richard Johnny John, with whom I collaborated on several translation projects and who acted as my ceremonial Seneca father. Looking back at these, there is a kind of lightheadedness in the work, which I hope comes across still as playful rather than in any sense disrespectful. I remain mindful of the words of Ed Curry, who was then the Longhouse leader and who stressed for me the idea of play as lying at the heart of ceremony: “If everything’s all right, the one who says the prayer tells the people: I leave it up to you folks, & if you want to have a good time, have a good time!” A second series of midwinter poems will appear in a forthcoming posting on Poems & Poetics. - J.R.]

4 comments:

SEO said...

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BRIDGET—"No, mum; her friends always washed their hands before they came."
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Confluence City said...

Thanks, Jerry. And I am so glad you posted Murat's piece. I treasure that book and his work geenrally. - Chris King, Poetry Scores

Julie said...

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