#Home #poem Homesteader

I thought this was about a woman! Still is for me.

The ’37 Chevy pickup, retired to a rest
of rust and thistles, sloughed off its front
wheels—the better to munch the sod and
ruminate on great loads hauled: lumber,
a keg of nails, the tools and paint
for their first frame farmhouse, then
the bed, a castiron cookstove with its
clatter of pans, plus the barbwire and
feedbags, a pump… later, kids
and hogs and heifers to the county fair.
Lasting out the War to End All Wars, and
then Korea, she earned her ease, turned
out to pasture by the old woodlot, where
time and the weather wrought a work of art,
making her a monument to herself.

by John Haag

Born in Idaho in1926, John Haag was a member of the Merchant Marine during World War II and a naval veteran of the Korean conflict.

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Hanlan’s Point, Souster #poem #Canada #children

I saw the same doors to underwater cities and secret woods and children hidden in a realm behind a rosebush and a cloaked parallel world entered through one door in one building on mid summer’s day right before noon. A lot of them were our own retellings of stories we read. Bless libraries and hurrah for writers of fairytales and fantasies. The joy they brought.
I wish I had my Dutch children’s books here in Canada. My twenty packed boxes of books are still back there. Dutch poetry, literature, YA novels…And coffee table books of penguins and aerial photography.

“Lagoons, Hanlan’s Point”

By Raymond Souster

[…]

And in one strange

dark, tree-hung entrance,

I followed the sound

of my heart all the way

to the reed-blocked ending,

with the pads of the lily

thick as green-shining film

covering the water.

And in another

where the sun came

to probe the depths

through a shaft of branches,

I saw the skeletons

of brown ships rotting

far below in their burial-ground,

and wondered what strange fish

with what strange colours

swam through these palaces

under the water…..

—-
(1)
Mornings

before the sun’s liquid

spilled gradually, flooding

the island’s cool cellar,

there was the boat

and the still lagoons,

with the sound of my oars

the only intrusion

over cries of birds

in the marshy shallows,

or the loud thrashing

of the startled crane

rushing the air.

(4)
A small boy

with a flat-bottomed punt

and an old pair of oars

moving with wonder

through the antechamber

of a walking world.

From: Oxford Book of Canadian Verse by Margaret Atwood. I found this a very dry and monotonous selection.

#Indigenous #poem #Native #Thanksgiving We thank the Great Spirit

Canadian Thanksgiving is today. Monday October 10, 2016.

I chose the sentences of this prayer that remind me of why we protest, protect and why we give thanks.
So many lovely turns of phrases: “trees that grow shadows”; “the light which we call our oldest brother” and “the kind being of the darkness that gives us light.” They all turn around how we think of things in our world. In western art and science shadows exist when something stands in the light and another part of it does not, we centre the light and the relation instead of the tree. The moon here is someone who belongs with us instead of an object that serves us, that revolves around us, that creates ebb and flow. The moon a kind being of the darkness, where darkness is not immediately frightening, does not first and foremost hold danger; blackness as kindness.

Giving thanks for the workers who took care of and brought in the harvest. Thanking the singers. Thanking those who hold ceremonies. Thanking all the women who do all this cooking -still.  
Enjoy your family and if you don’t have any, go out and walk in the sun, be outside, roll yourself to a park.

The Thanksgivings
Harriet Maxwell Converse

Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer

[…] We thank the Great Spirit for the water that comes out of the earth and runs
for our lands.
[…]
We thank the Great Spirit for the branches of the trees that grow shadows
for our shelter.
We thank the Great Spirit for … the thunder
and lightning that water the earth.

We thank the Great Spirit for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun
that works for our good.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank the Great Spirit for the goodness in making the forests,

and thank
all its trees.
We thank the Great Spirit for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being
of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank the Great Spirit for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs,
the stars.
We give the Great Spirit thanks for our workers, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard
through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
[…]
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies
on this occasion.

America, Canada #Thanksgiving #poem #Cuba #coffee #Pumpkin

To read the poem skip the long into 🙂

Peanut butter Jam sandwiches came to my notice with a cartoon book by Gary Larson. He showed two cartoons -one of his far side and one of Dennis the Menace- where the quotes under the cartoons had been accidentally (?!) swapped. The Far Side cartoon showed, I think, two dinosaurs fighting ostensibly over peanut butter and jam sandwiches. So…they became my “healthy” after exercise favourites. Nuts are healthy. Fruit is healthy.

My parents being from Indonesia, we ate spicy peanut butter sauce a lot. The derogatory term for families like us in Dutch is “katjangs” (peanuts).  A famous Dutch children’s book is called How the Peanuts came to the Boarding School of mr. Small Tummy (who actually had a fat belly): it is about two mixed Indo-Dutch boys who are sent to the Netherlands.

I guess from the poem that Cubans in Cuba don’t eat much peanut butter, or the generation Blanco talks about anyway. Fried plantain chips though! We had those on Aruba too. And an Indonesian staple as well. Fried plantain so good. It is lovely to have a small store in your neighbourhood where you can the fruits and meats from your childhood or your background.

The poem seems to be about food and food until you read it again and notice some political stuff: stanza I mentions food donations by the Immigration Department. Was this before foodstamps?  II mentions the cuban community coming together to hold on to their dignity and to close their eyes from the loss of status and connections and the racism that would rob them of jobs, of chances, of promotions, of recognition.

III mentions colouring books in class that depict yams and presumably native americans who help the pilgrims survive the winters. A fiction that colours genocide with yellow, brown, and turkey red.

IV is all about politics and the illustrates perfectly the empty words that freedom, liberty and justice can become without hearing all the stories of colonization and opportunity and murder and riches and plantations and community.
I like this verse the least because it feels empty. I like how the child is supported by their family by making concessions on foods.

V The other food, the American food, is judged to be dry and pumpkin pie not suitable for celebrations, for isn’t it medicinal? They tried pleasing everyone and thus pleased no-one.
Who doesn’t forget their worries with dancing…The joy of hearing your sounds, being back where you belong. Or think you belong. When we would go to Indonesian or Caribbean events in the Netherlands, dancing and food were the success we judged the party by. Dancing with someone else of course. None of this on your own nonsense. No loss of connections allowed. Everything aimed to glue us together. Forget the loneliness of another culture for a night.

América
By Richard Blanco

I.
Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered
at least half a dozen uses for peanut butter—
topping for guava shells in syrup,
butter substitute for Cuban toast,
hair conditioner and relaxer—
Mamá never knew what to make
of the monthly five-pound jars
handed out by the immigration department
until my friend, Jeff, mentioned jelly.

II.
There was always pork though,
for every birthday and wedding,
whole ones on Christmas and New Year’s Eve,
even on Thanksgiving day—pork,
fried, broiled, or crispy skin roasted—
as well as cauldrons of black beans,
fried plantain chips, and yuca con mojito.
These items required a special visit
to Antonio’s Mercado on the corner of Eighth Street
where men in guayaberas stood in senate
blaming Kennedy for everything—“Ese hijo de puta!”
the bile of Cuban coffee and cigar residue
filling the creases of their wrinkled lips;
clinging to one another’s lies of lost wealth,
ashamed and empty as hollow trees.

III.
By seven I had grown suspicious—we were still here.
Overheard conversations about returning
had grown wistful and less frequent.
I spoke English; my parents didn’t.
We didn’t live in a two-story house
with a maid or a wood-panel station wagon
nor vacation camping in Colorado.
None of the girls had hair of gold;
none of my brothers or cousins
were named Greg, Peter, or Marcia;
we were not the Brady Bunch.
None of the black and white characters
on Donna Reed or on the Dick Van Dyke Show
were named Guadalupe, Lázaro, or Mercedes.
Patty Duke’s family wasn’t like us either—
they didn’t have pork on Thanksgiving,
they ate turkey with cranberry sauce;
they didn’t have yuca, they had yams
like the dittos of Pilgrims I colored in class.

IV.
A week before Thanksgiving
I explained to my abuelita
about the Indians and the Mayflower,
how Lincoln set the slaves free;
I explained to my parents about
the purple mountain’s majesty,
“one if by land, two if by sea,”
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the “masses yearning to be free,”
liberty and justice for all, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we would have turkey,
as well as pork.

V.
Abuelita prepared the poor fowl
as if committing an act of treason,
faking her enthusiasm for my sake.
Mamá set a frozen pumpkin pie in the oven
and prepared candied yams following instructions
I translated from the marshmallow bag.
The table was arrayed with gladiolas,
the plattered turkey loomed at the center
on plastic silver from Woolworth’s.
Everyone sat in green velvet chairs
we had upholstered with clear vinyl,
except Tío Carlos and Toti, seated
in the folding chairs from the Salvation Army.
I uttered a bilingual blessing
and the turkey was passed around
like a game of Russian Roulette.
“DRY,” Tío Berto complained, and proceeded
to drown the lean slices with pork fat drippings
and cranberry jelly—“esa mierda roja,” he called it.
Faces fell when Mamá presented her ochre pie—
pumpkin was a home remedy for ulcers, not a dessert.
Tía María made three rounds of Cuban coffee
then Abuelo and Pepe cleared the living room furniture,
put on a Celia Cruz LP and the entire family
began to merengue over the linoleum of our apartment,
sweating rum and coffee until they remembered—
it was 1970 and 46 degrees—
in América.
After repositioning the furniture,
an appropriate darkness filled the room.
Tío Berto was the last to leave.

Richard Blanco, “América” from City of a Hundred Fires. Copyright © 1998. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, http://www.pitt.edu/~press/. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.
Source: City of a Hundred Fires (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998)

Sometimes by Helga Moreira

Sometimes when you read a translation, you know it is not right, because it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t seem to be in the tradition of non-sensical poems.  I remember a little Latin and some Papiamentu:) This is what I think the poem says. If you are fluent in Portuguese and you think I am wrong, I would be glad if you let me know!

Sometimes

I.
Sometimes it’s almost a state.
Almost a tree, almost a lake.

2.
Somewhere in the right place.
Something in the wrong place.
Neither a tree nor a lake.
A complete negation.

3.
Let everything go on and on.
And then you guess right – London Bridge.
Bridges built over a state of panic.
Late evening on a clear night.
Shall we find the horizon
by looking at where it is absent?

1.
Por vezes é quase um estado.
Quase uma árvore, quase um lago.

2.
Um lugar no sítio certo.
Qualquer coisa no sítio errado.
Nem árvore, nem lago.
A negação por completo.

3.
Deixa que tudo siga.
Adivinha-se então – London Bridge.
Pontes por sobre o pânico.
Serão em noite clara.
Vamos adivinhar o horizonte
em negação interrogada?

© Translated by Ana Hudson, 2011. I changed Hudson’s translation.
in Agora que falamos de morrer, 2006

“The trees were attitudes in black” #Snow Advent by Auslander #ChristmasEve #Wintersolstice #WinterWonderland

dsc_3543-e1417669026440

Photos by Theresaurus.

Snow advent

The clouds were all brushed up and back
The wrong way by the wind;
The trees were attitudes in black;
The brooks were disciplined.

Then soft as spider on a shelf,
Or satin mouse at birth,
Or as a pigeon lends itself
Reluctantly to earth —

dsc_3493-e1417691403176

No louder than a silken sound
Of the web’s silver wheel,
Spraying the darkness all around
With spokes of silken steel —

As soft and softer than all these
Parted the sky at noon;
And the air stood up league-deep in bees,
The white bees of the moon.

 

-Joseph Auslander in All the Silver Pennies

Song Cycle of the Moon Bone, Wonguri-Mandjigai people. #nativelivesmatter #LifeLivedLikeaStory 1/3

Song Cycle of the Moon Bone

…The prawn is there, at the place of the Dugong, digging out mud with its claws
The hard-shelled prawn living there in the water, making soft little noises.

They are sitting about the camp, among the branches, along the
.        back of the camp;
sitting along in lines in the camp, they’re in the shade of the paperbark
.        trees:
sitting along in a line, like the new white spreading clouds;
In the shade of the paperbarks, they’re sitting like resting clouds.
People of the clouds, living there like the mist; like the mist sitting
.        resting with arms on knees,
In here towards the shade, in this Place, in the shadow of paperbarks.
Sitting there in rows, those Wonguri-Mandjigai people, paperbarks
.        along like a cloud.
Living on cycad-nut bread; sitting there with white-stained fingers,
Sitting in there resting, those people of the Sandfly clan…
Sitting there like mist, at that place of the Dugong… And of the
.        Dugongs Entrails…
Sitting resting there in the place of the Dugong…
In the place of the Moonlight Clay Pans, and at the place of the
.        Dugong…
There at that Dugong place they are sitting all along.

The prawn is there, at the place of the Dugong, digging out mud
.        with its claws…
The hard-shelled prawn living there in the water, making soft little
.        noises.
It burrows into the mud and casts it aside, among the lilies…
Throwing aside the mud, with soft little noises…
Digging out mud with its claws at the place of the Dugong, the place
.        of the Dugong’s Tail…
Calling the bone bukalili, The catfish bukalili, the frog bukalili, the
.        sacred tree bukalili,
The prawn is burrowing, coming up, throwing aside the mud, and
.        digging…
Climbing up on to the Lotus plants and onto their pods…

(Note from book: bukalili mans sacred epithet, power name)

 

USED: The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse at Abebooks!
chosen by Les A. Murray