Mvskoke Country

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field notes ➤ Louis Oliver, 1982

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❝ Creek Indian Thought No. 9
(October 8, 1982)

Flying in arrowhead shape, wild geese
flew low silently in October.
Coyote sat and watched on
the lone prairie,
hoping they would land to rest
on a moonlit pond.

I stood in the presence of tall trees
whose leaves were falling gently,
—and a squirrel was dropping cuttings
from a hickory nut.
Another flight of “honkers” flew wildly
Cackling to each other
—then Coyote howled.

Like boiling, bubbling gnats in sunlight
are thoughts in my mind.
On the lacy spokewheeled webs
of yellow and black striped spiders
that sometimes weave
prophetic words
I keep searching.

II

So I stand in wonderment
of these mysticisms.
We—the only flesh and blood
inhabitants of a planet
of all the Universe—There’s no other
and we threaten with laser beams
and space gadgets
—Others
when there is no other:

So—the oak leaves keep falling
brown and curled
the geese keep coming, honking louder.
Coyote sits straight up
howling.
In a time like this, I have
a song I sing:
Yowale Yowalehe
ho ho ho—Yowal
le hee . . . 

Caught in a Willow Net
by Louis Oliver
(Greenfield Review Press, 1983)

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Written by James Treat

October 5, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, 1903

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What a Snap

I wish I were an editor,
Out in the country free,
Where old subscribers would bring
Potatoes in to me;
And as I counted up each spud,
Each cabbage and each beet,
I grab my pen and give the man
A veg’table receipt. ❞

Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2008)

Written by James Treat

August 24, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, circa 1899

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July

The air without has taken fever,
Fast I feel the beating of its pulse;
The leaves are twisted on the maple,
In the corn the autumn’s premature;
The weary butterfly hangs waiting
For a breath to waft him thither at
The touch; the grass is curled and dust-blown;
The sun shines down as on a desert.

The air without is blinding dusty;
Cool I feel the west wind; I see
The sunlight, crowded on the porch, grow
Smaller till absorbed in shadow; the
Far hills erstwhile blue are changed to a gray;
Twilight shadows all the land apace;
And now I hear the shower falling
And the leaves clapping their hands for joy. ❞

Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2008)

Written by James Treat

July 6, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Louis Littlecoon Oliver, 1990

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❝ Rededication

Greencorn, ripe with browning silks
marking the new year of
Sage old men of the old Creek nation
Kowakogee, Walesa and Saba
Lame and crutched
Trudge to the old country
from which their ancestors were driven like cattle.
they go to see
That ancient paradise
Once a land of milk and honey
They go to dedicate their lives anew
with the ancient ones
to see the dead raised in old haunts
to see the great communal fields
to hear the drum and old chants.
No river too wide or canyons too deep;
for a fish will part the waters
and the mind dovetail the canyon’s banks
together with a song.
Singing too on the turtle path
joining with bear and deer trails.
The hawk seeking quail
and the woodlands, mana
The “little people” guiding them.
The old rock land-mark glowed
With blood blotched petroglyphs
on their approach to Chattahoche.
Old Alibama mushroom wrinkles,
a hundred years growth
greets them as if but yesterday
Smelling of redroot in his blood
Sits with them in a circle
after the fast—after the medicine
and then the quiet séance.
A low rumble in bowels of the earth
Old warrior bones sprout—
take on flesh
tens of thousands—braves, chiefs
brother tribes
Euchee, Cherokee, Choctaw
Shawnee and Chickasaw.
Old friends—Mochesoke
Katcha emathla, Tecumseh, Watashe;
Old wives, Wisey, Yana, Tooske
and Poloke.
The gourd chimes a requiem
red tears from the sun
rocks moan and split
day curtain—night curtain rent
moon pales to naught
winds roar without sound.
The great valley swallows its bones,
The oldmen, star showered, awaken
to the last song of the all night dance;
a rooster crows
a turkey gobbles
little yellow birds twitter
the sunlight. ❞

Chasers of the Sun: Creek Indian Thoughts
by Louis Littlecoon Oliver
(Greenfield Review Press, 1990)

Written by James Treat

June 22, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, 1898

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❝ The Dew and the Bird

There is more glory in a drop of dew,
That shineth only for an hour,
Than there is in the pomp of earth’s great Kings
Within the noonday of their pow’r.

There is more sweetness in a single strain
That falleth from a wild bird’s throat,
At random in the lonely forest’s depths,
Than there’s in all the songs that bards e’er wrote.

Yet men, for aye, rememb’ring Caesar’s name,
Forget the glory in the dew,
And praising Homer’s epic let the lark’s
Song fall unheeded from the blue.

All the While

Let mankind fight and jower
Over creeds decayed or new;
Deny that God had power,
That the Holy Book is true,
The birds are singing all the while,
And grass is growing mile on mile. ❞

Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2008)

Written by James Treat

April 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ Alexander Posey, circa 1897

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❝ To a Hummingbird

Now here, now there;
E’er poised somewhere
In sensuous air.
I only hear, I cannot see
The matchless wings that beareth thee.
Art thou some frenzied poet’s thought,
That God embodied and forgot?

To the Crow

Caw, caw, caw,
Thou bird of ebon hue,
Above the slumb’rous valley spread in flight,
On wings that flash defiance back at light,
A speck against the blue,
A-vanishing.

Caw, caw, caw,
Thou bird of common sense,
Far, far in lonely distance leaving me,
Eluded, with a shout of mockery
For all my diligence
At evening.

The Blue Jay

The silence of the golden afternoon
Is broken by the chatter of the jay.
What season finds him when he is not gay,
Light-hearted, noisy, singing out of tune,
High-crested, blue as is the sky of June?
‘Tis autumn when he comes; the hazy air.
Half-hiding like a veil, lies ev’rywhere,
Full of memories of summer soon
To fade; leaves, losing hold upon the tree,
Fly helpless in the wintry wind’s unrest;
The goldenrod is burning low and fitfully;
The squirrel leaves his leafy summer nest,
Descends and gathers up the nuts that drop,
When lightly shaken, from the hick’ry top.

To a Robin

Out in the Golden air,
Out where the skies are fair,
I hear a song of gladness,
With never a note of sadness.
Ring out thy heart’s delight,
And mine of every sorrow!
Sing, sweet bird, till the night,
And come again tomorrow.

To the Indian Meadow Lark

When other birds despairing southward fly,
In early autumn time away;
When all the green leaves of the forest die,
How merry still art thou, and gay.

O! golden breasted bird of dawn,
Through all the bleak days singing on,
Till winter, wooed a captive by thy strain,
Breaks into smiles, and Spring is come again.

The Bluebird

A winged bit of Indian sky
Strayed hither from its home on high. ❞

Song of the Oktahutche: Collected Poems
by Alexander Posey
edited by Matthew Wynn Sivils
(University of Nebraska Press, 2008)

Written by James Treat

March 2, 2011 at 12:00 am

field notes ➤ William Harjo, 1941

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BUDDY HARJO LAUDS SPRING WEATHER

Look like springtime come already, don’t it?
Look like gonna be another pretty day;
Everything jus’ warm up all over;
Sun he’s come up early shine all day.
I’m glad too, ’cause hungry whole lot now;
Winter he was make me be that way;
If I’m like a bear it don’t hurt me nothin’
‘Cause bear go to sleep all winter every day.
But man has to eat jus’ like in summer time;
He can’t sleep all winter in a log somewhere,
An’ me, I’m jus’ like all other Indian;
I sure aint be all time like a bear.

Pretty soon I gittin’ fat again now, me;
Things to eat grow again when sun git hotter;
Nothin’ he don’t grow like that in winter time,
An’ me — I can’t livin’ on water!
Pretty soon wild onion time is come again;
He grow whole lot all over every way,
An’ I pick him any time I want it;
Eat wild onion three four times a day.
If weather he be like this all the time —
Red beans raise, tomatoe an’ apple pie;
Then fat hog be like if I don’t careful,
An’ eat so much ’till almost I jus’ die!

Sprintime make a new man out of me,
Like a boy I fishin’ in the creek all day;
Springtime make me feel good the children too,
He want to git outside all day an’ play.
But lots of work was come in springtime too,
An’ I don’t like it too much that part, me;
‘Cause work he’s pretty hard to do sometime —
Plowin’ field aint like he use’ to be.
Yeh, springtime he is pretty good all right,
But I don’t want him all the time to be;
‘Cause all that work — catchin’ mule an’ plowin’
Jus’ make it every day too hard on me. ❞

Sour Sofkee
by William Harjo [Thomas E. Moore]
(privately published, 1983)

Written by James Treat

February 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

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