Thursday, June 7, 2007

Poem: Native

On my recent trip to the Grand Canyon, we ventured into the Navajo Nation. What I saw was desolation and destitution. A people that had once flourished throughout North America in harmony with the land are now greatly reduced to small boxes of dead earth. I have done my share of reading on the plight of the American Indian and understand it is necessary to avoid the caricatures of the Indians as wholesome and pure, and the white man as fully decadent and evil. However, by and large there is an element of truth to these representations in looking at how Native Americans lived on these lands before Europeans invaded and recklessly overwhelmed the local inhabitants and a great deal of nature, too, in their pursuit of Manifest Destiny.

The ring purchase is a reference to the small stand I stopped at to buy a piece of jewelry from an old man inside the Navajo Nation. It is meant as a statement, but I will leave that to you to come to conclusion on.

Native

Lands were fertile far and wide
Took their fill as life provides
Green grass meadows to skies of cloud
One with country their God endowed
Bound to earth as mother’s womb
Only take what they’d consume

Plague came forth in wrathful flight
Reckless force of scorching white
Paths were trodden by mindless ruin
Death came quick from whence they’d swoon
Mark’s been left with disregard
Land once blessed now cold and hard

Man sits old in wrinkled skin
Nation’s lost but not within
Pride remains as time-spilled lore
Imagines all might thought restore

Pain will yield when hearts still sing
Man lives on; I buy a ring

Copyright SGW 2007

6 comments:

Fenny said...

wow ... the imagery here is so beautiful it makes the poem even more powerful ... you're right ... I really love this one

STP said...

Thank you, Fenny. I knew from the poignant poem you wrote that you would like this one. It is sad. I do carry the old man with me whenever I wear that ring. It seems insignificant, but it serves some purpose of connecting me to him.

writerwoman said...

Man sits old in wrinkled skin
Nation’s lost but not within


These are my favorite lines because of all the images it brings to mind: indians on a resevations, veterns, seniors, elders, etc. Its universal.

STP said...

Thank you. Those lines mattered to me a great deal in writing them.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper said...

You have the ability and the sensitivy to stop a soul in its tracks. This is a moving poem.

The sorrow is that it has always been and always will be.

Some details change, certainly where and when, but the underlying nature of the homo sapien, sapien is the tragic continuity of momentum. It's played out and "manifested, today in the Middle East and Africa, to cite just two obvious examples.

As long as are species and members of species who can dominate others, and who covet the assets of others, this will continue.

It's often said that history is written by the victors, but I think poets write the history of the vanquished. Ergo, victors and poets are, by definition, and clearly from experience, enemies.
Each looks around to find the enemy of their enemy, their friend.

Some just want to turn up the heat under the pot that is close to boiling, and then convince the naive simpleton that he is vulnerable unless he supports the pot boiler.

I didn't expect or mean to get on the soap box and rant so much. But I am so very angry at the pot boilers. They are the true villains.

Leanderthal, Lighthouse Keeper.

STP said...

First, thank you so much, Leanderthal. I appreciate your kind words, but also your "rant." I agree with much. I would say, though, that poets are more the writers for the underdog then the vanquished. In that, hope remains. I write about the Iraq War, with the belief that I can make a difference in swaying opinion. I do the same when I write about the environment or the old man selling trinkets in a wasteland. At times, it strikes me as absurd to believe in that, but what is the story about the butterfly flapping its wings in a distant land?