Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Split This Rock Poem-of-the-Week: Arthur Sze

Looking Back on the Muckleshoot Reservation from Galisteo Street, Santa Fe

The bow of a Muckleshoot canoe, blessed
with eagle feather and sprig of yellow cedar,
is launched into a bay. A girl watches
her mother fry venison slabs in a skillet—
drops of blood sizzle, evaporate. Because
a neighbor feeds them, they eat wordlessly;
the silence breaks when she occasionally
gags, reaches into her throat, pulls out hair.
Gone is the father, riled, arguing with his boss,
who drove to the shooting range after work;
gone the accountant who embezzled funds,
displayed a pickup, and proclaimed a winning
flush at the casino. You donate chicken soup
and clothes but never learn if they arrive
at the south end of the city. Your small
acts are sandpiper tracks in wet sand.
Newspapers, plastic containers, beer bottles
fill the bins along this sloping one-way street.

- Arthur Sze

From The Ginkgo Light, (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), used by permission.

Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (2009),
Quipu (2005), The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese (2001), and The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 (1998), all from Copper Canyon Press. He is also the editor of Chinese Writers on Writing (forthcoming from Trinity University Press in 2010). He is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he served, from 2006 to 2008 as the city’s first poet laureate.
Sze will be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 10-13, 2010, in Washington, DC. The festival will present readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism - four days of creative transformation as we imagine a way forward, hone our community and activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. For more information:
Split This Rock is co-sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies, the country’s oldest multi-issue progressive think tank.

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