Pumas


I have previously mentioned that I am taking a poetry class with Lorraine Mejia-Green through the Story Circle Network.  To date we have read poetry by Mary Oliver, Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Joy Harjo.  Clifton has written a very interesting series of poems called Foxes.  Joy Harjo’s most famous poem is about horses.  My obsession seems to be pumas even though I do love horses.

Puma I

                                                   My neighbor walked out her door,

                                                    found a puma lying on the lawn.

                                                    She arose and ambled off.

                                                    At night when I open my gate

                                                     I wonder if puma lurks

                                                     behind the cedar tree.

                                                     My daughter dreams puma dreams:

                                                      A puma chases her up a tree

                                                     There are no trees here big enough to climb.

                                                     A Zuni puma fetish guards my sleep.

                                                     I run with puma

                                                     Night wild

                                                     Free.

                                                     I scream and howl

                                                     Moonstruck

                                                     Bloodborn.

                                                     I hike the canyon

                                                     Stroll around my house

                                                     Look for puma tracks.

                                                     I see none.

                                                     I would rather die by puma

                                                     than in a car wreck.

Puma II

                                        I watch for eyes, blue changing to amber and back.

                                        I put my palm, fingers stretched to measure, into the footprint.

                                        Too small, bobcat.

                                         No puma.

                                         My thin body squeezes between the rocks,

                                                           climbing quietly down the cliff.

                                         Watching, listening, searching.

                                          No puma.

                                           Pale amber rushes across my vision line.

                                           My heart quakes.

                                           I watch; I wait.

                                           It is Isabella, a golden whir chasing rabbits.

                                           No puma.

                                           At sunrise, I walk the rim.

                                                          watching.

                                          At sunset, I walk the rim,

                                                           waiting.

                                          At night, I walk the rim,

                                                           dreaming.

                                           No puma; not yet.

Ten Little White Indians, Final Volume! (Spoilers Already Spoiled!)


This post by a fellow blogger says a lot about what I think regarding certain movies in which American Indians are portrayed or in which they act. It also relates in some ways to my own previous posted poem, “Blood Quanturm”.

northierthanthou

Bet y’all didn’t notice!

I am one short on my promise of 10 Little White Indians. Well, it turns out that my three-part series on White Indians has four parts, and there is surely a good Monty Python reference in there somewhere, but maybe we’ll save that for another day

***

Let us start with a brief consideration of the near misses.

WIND TALKERS (2002): I remember when this movie was on its way to the theaters, rumor had it that the flick was about the Navajo Code Talkers. Working as I did then on the Navajo Nation, I was (like a lot of my students and colleagues) really excited to see this part of American history portrayed on screen. My enthusiasm waned considerably when I realized it wasn’t about a Code Talker so much as a white guy who might have to kill a Code Talker if things took…

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Blood Quantum


This poem is dedicated to Sherman Alexie whose poem, “13/16” begins with:

“I cut my self into sixteen equal pieces…”

My grandson cuts himself into 16 equal pieces:

4/16 Urhobo from Africa

4/16 Spanish from Spain

4/16 other European—two Swiss

German great great-grandfathers

(Werth and Kaiser), Irish, English

and who knows what

3/16 Mexican—whatever  mixtures that may be

1/16 Navaho

 

Who am I?  What am I?

Who are you? What are you?

Do we really know?

Who sets the rules?

-white men

-black

-Indian

-Native American

-Irish

-English

-German

from where and for whom?

He looks Navaho:

-blue black straight hair,

-pale brown skin,

-obsidian eyes.

One four year old girl asks him,

“Are you an American Indian?”

His six your old self says nothing.

She repeats,

“Are you an American Indian?”

He says, “It’s complicated.

The Navaho won’t claim him, too little blood.

He needs ¼ , not 1/16.

Caddo and Fort Sill Apache allow 1/16, not Navahos.

¼ blood is for

-Sioux

-Cheyenne

-Kiowa

-Navaho

1/8 works for Comanche and Pawnee.

Some Cherokees only want a Cherokee ancestor.

 

But he is none of those.

Is he Navaho?

Is he white?

The Old South goes by the one drop rule:

one drop of Negro…

Is a person with 99/100 percent white

and 1/100 black , black?

Who says?

Kids at school ask, What are you?”

He tells them.

They say, “You’re lying!”

 

I only know specifically about two ancestors,

the Swiss Germans.

Another great grandfather disappeared during the Civil War.

I don’t even know his name.

Who am I?

Who are you?

I think I’ll get a DNA test.

Then I’ll know how many pieces I need to cut myself into.