02 November 2010
by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Tuesday's Chile, Poetry Editor
On this Election Day, as we cast our votes in a declaration of independence and civic duty; as an affirmation of our heritage as Americans; I cannot help but consider that part of our Heritage that is like the crisp autumn leaves of dried blood on our hands; a heritage passed down by the spilled blood of brothers and sisters past; of the blood of grandfathers and grandmothers weeping from a round house; the blood of elk and bison spilled on sands and in forests; blood of eagles on a snow-capped precipice and blood of mallards on a Cascade valley lake; the blood of our Heritage carried by blood-vein rivers across this vast red earth. A heritage that preceded the landing at Plymouth Rock, even that of the landing of the Santa Maria. A heritage planted by a tribal people who also, nonetheless, in a vast and distant time, emigrated from the distant shores of another distant continent. Who, because of aeons of intimate connection with this landscape, believed that every thing is alive. So much so, that coastal tribes built their dugouts with hearts and lungs; because they believed the tree was still alive in the boat.
On this Election Day, as we make those important votes and then go about our daily routines, routines that takes us along the corridors of pavement or through the static of the air; let us consider a once powerful people. A people subjegated, marginalized and weakened. A people caught between two worlds not of their choosing. A people left with only...
A Declaration, Not of Independence
Apparently I’m Mom’s immaculately-conceived
Irish-American son, because,
Social-Security time come,
my Cherokee dad could not prove he’d been born.
He could pay taxes, though,
financing troops, who’d conquered our land,
and could go to jail,
the time he had to shoot or die,
by a Caucasian attacker’s knife.
Eluding recreational killers’ calendar’s
enforcers, while hunting my family’s food,
I thought what the hunted think,
so that I ate, not only meat
but the days of wild animals fed by the days
of seeds, themselves eating earth’s
aeons of lives, fed by the sun,
rising and falling, as quail,
hurtling through sky,
fell, from gun-powder, come—
as the First Americans came—
Explosions in cannon,
I have an English name,
a German-Chilean-American wife
and could live a white life,
but, with this hand,
with which I write, I dug,
my sixteenth summer, a winter’s supply of yams out
of hard, battlefield clay,
dug for my father’s mother, who—
abandoned by her husband—raised,
alone, a mixed-blood family
and raised—her tongue spading air—
ancestors, a winter’s supply or more.
-- Ralph Salisbury