V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





The weight of ashes 
from burned out camps.
Lodges smoulder in fire,
animal hides wither
their mythic images shrinking
pulling in on themselves,
all incinerated
of  breath  bone and basket 
rest heavy 
sink deep 
like wintering frogs.
And no dustbowl wind
can lift 
this history 
of loss.

Now fertilized by generations—
ashes upon ashes,
this old earth erupts.
Medicine voices rise like mists
white buffalo memories
teeth marks on birch bark 
forgotten forms
tremble into wholeness.

And the grey weathered stumps,
trees and treaties 
cut down 
trampled for wealth. 
Flat potlatch plateaus
of ghost forests 
raked by bears
soften  rot inward
until tiny arrows of green
rise erect
from each crumbling center.

Some will never laugh 
as easily.
Will hide knives
silver as fish in their boots,
hoard names
as if they could be stolen 
as easily as land,
will paper their walls
with maps and broken promises,
scar their flesh
with this badge
heavy as ashes.

And this is a poem 
for those 
from birth.
In the womb
of your mother nation
sound like drums
drums like thunder
thunder like twelve thousand 
then ten thousand
then eight
walking away 
from stolen homes
from burned out camps
from relatives fallen 
as they walked
then crawled 
then fell.
This is the woodpecker sound
of an old retreat.
It becomes an echo,
an accounting
to be reconciled.
This is the sound
of trees falling in the woods
when they are heard, 
of red nations falling 
when they are remembered. 
This is the sound 
we hear 
when fist meets flesh
when memories rattle hollow in stomachs. 

And we turn this sound 
over and over again
until it becomes 
fertile ground
from which we will build
new nations
upon the ashes of our ancestors.
Until it becomes 
the rattle of a new revolution
these fingers 
drumming on keys.

 © by Kimberly Blaeser


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