Friday, November 17, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This: Lee Maracle, Speaking Truth to Power

This powerful poem is read by Lee Maracle, one of the foremost poets and writers in Canada. Ms. Maracle  is from Vancouver, B.C., a member of the Sto:lo Nation, of Salish and Cree ancestry. She is a granddaughter of the renowned Chief Dan George, of North Vancouver. She was one of the first aboriginal writers to be published  in Canada in the early 1970's. Ms. Maracle now lives and teaches in Toronto.

I could not have written this, as I am not a member of First Nations. But I empathize with how this beautiful nation of people - the first who lived on this land for thousands of years - was displaced, marginalized and oppressed by those who arrived here much later. And I so admire Ms. Maracle's strong voice, speaking truth to power.

Her above poem, "Aboriginal Apology", is a triumphant response to the Canadian government's lame attempts to address reconciliation these last few years. So far apologies have been inadequate. Perhaps because reparation would go further than words in addressing the injustices done to an entire people since colonial times.

In articles I have read about her, one of her quotes stood out for me:

"Where do you begin telling someone
their world is not the only one?"


Ms. Maracle has written many books: novels, works of nonfiction,  and poetry. She has edited several anthologies.  She is also an educator, social activist, performance artist, storyteller, playwright, songwriter and Artistic Director of the largest aborginal theatre in Canada, in Toronto.

Ms. Maracle has given hundreds of speeches on political, historical, and feminist sociological topics  related to native people. She has conducted dozens of workshops on personal and cultural reclamation, serving as a consultant on First Nations’ self-government. She has an extensive history in community development.

Lee Maracle is one of the most prolific aboriginal authors in Canada. Her life and her voice are inspiring to all generations. I thought I would introduce her to you, so those outside of Canada can hear her voice, speaking truth to power with such strength.

The long list of her works can be found here

Here is another example of her work.


Do you speak your language?
I stare—I just said: how are you?
I thought English was my language
apparently it isn’t
I thought Halkomelem was gibberish
the devil’s language
that’s what the nuns said
apparently not
Some white guy sets me straight:
Aboriginal people are losing languages
Funny, I thought I had it just a moment ago
maybe it’s in Gramma’s old shoebox
maybe it’s sandwiched between papers
in plastic bags hidden under mom’s bed
Hey, has anyone seen my language?
              Will my words dangle from empty raped mountains?
               laid waste on dead seas
              Or will they sing sweet from the skirt of winds
               remembered songs of hope not realized?

              I weave this imagined dream world onto old
              Suquamish blankets,
              history-hole-punched and worn—
              to re-craft today,
              to re-member future in this new language.
             And I sing I am home again.

              Lee Maracle, from Talking To the Diaspora, 2015

I do hope you enjoyed meeting this amazing and powerful woman.  

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Meteor Showers

Fireball from the 1998 Leonid meteor shower on Nov. 17,
Photo by astrophotographer Lorenzo Lovato, 1998. (

"The night is falling down around us. Meteors rain like fireworks, quick rips in the seam of the dark.... Every second, another streak of silver glows: parentheses, exclamation points, commas—a whole grammar made of light, 
for words too hard to speak.” 
― Jodi PicoultMy Sister's Keeper

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me                     

in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.” 
― Jack London

“Better was it to go unknown and leave behind you an arch, then to burn like a meteor and leave no dust.” 
-- Virginia Woolf

The November Meteors by Étienne Léopold Trouvelot, 1868

Midweek Motif ~ Meteor Showers

According to Wikipedia: 
meteor shower is a celestial event in which a number of meteors are observed to radiate, or originate, from one point in the night sky.  . . .   The first great storm in the modern era was the Leonids of November 1833. One estimate is over one hundred thousand meteors an hour,[3] but another, done as the storm abated, estimated in excess of two hundred thousand meteors during the 9 hours of storm[4] over the entire region of North America east of the Rocky Mountains.  
Imagine that!
or have you actually seen them?  

(In November, because the single point of origin is 
in the constellation Leo, they are called the Leonids.)  

Your Challenge:  Employ a meteor shower or a meteor in your new poem, whether historical, fantastical or metaphorical.  

Here are all the details you need for 

2017’s Leonid meteor shower, 
November 17 and 18.

The Meteorite

Among the hills a meteorite
Lies huge; and moss has overgrown,
And wind and rain with touches light
Made soft, the contours of the stone.

Thus easily can Earth digest
A cinder of sidereal fire,
And make her translunary guest
The native of an English shire.

Nor is it strange these wanderers
Find in her lap their fitting place,
For every particle that's hers
Came at the first from outer space.

All that is Earth has once been sky;
Down from the sun of old she came,
Or from some star that travelled by
Too close to his entangling flame.

Hence, if belated drops yet fall
From heaven, on these her plastic power
Still works as once it worked on all
The glad rush of the golden shower.


In the middle of rolling grasslands, away from lights,
a moonless night untethers its wild polka-dots,
the formations we can name competing for attention
in a twinkling and crowded sky-bowl.

Out from the corners, our eyes detect a maverick meteor,
a transient streak, and lying back toward midnight
on the heft of car hood, all conversation blunted,
we are at once unnerved and somehow restored.
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

Image result for Meteor Showers Nasa
2003: The Leonid meteor shower

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 
In the forests of the night; 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies. 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand, dare seize the fire? 

And what shoulder, & what art, 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain, 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp, 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp! 

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water'd heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger Tyger burning bright, 
In the forests of the night: 
What immortal hand or eye, 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community.

(Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ The Flower: Rose)

Monday, November 13, 2017


We have a treat for you today, my friends, a poem each by Kelli Simpson, well-known as Mama Zen, who blogs at  another damn poetry blog(which is anything but! Smiles), Rommy Driks, of  Kestril's Rhythms and Groove, and Jae Rose, who writes at her blog  of the same name. Each poem took my breath  away, and I thought the combined effect of all three together would certainly brighten your day. Enjoy!

Old Mother Wichita wets with twilight.
Blackjacks bruise purple but for the green

lichen half-rubbed away hip-high
to an old bison's itch.

A rich robe of Indian Blanket sways and drapes
the hill to hollow hovered

by a red-tailed hawk circling
in the blue becoming gold becoming thick

with cicadas, fireflies,
and mockingbird song.

Summer light dies slow,
lingers lazy and long.

Then she sighs herself into a star
for night to wish upon.

Sherry: I am sighing myself, at your beautiful closing lines. Your imagery is so vivid, Kelli. This is beautiful.

Kelli: "Mother Wichita" is about the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near where I grew up in southwestern Oklahoma.  The Wichitas are one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth; the Wichita tribe believed that their first ancestors sprang from the rocky points of the range.  

Today, the refuge is home to a large herd of bison and acres and acres of untouched mixed grass prairie.  To say that it is beautiful, inspiring, and humbling, is to say the very least.

Sherry: It is such a beautiful landscape. I can see how it inspires your muse. Thanks, Kelli, for this wonderful share.

In Samantha's Shoes

Dinner’s in the fridge.
Don’t forget Tabitha’s bedtime story.
Make sure Darren Jr does his homework.

I’ve laced up my take-no-prisoners,
Valkyrie-on-a-broomstick, hell-yes
you’ll-hear-me-roar boots.

You smiled at me,
while I decided between
belladonna or datura -
made me want to reach
for damania instead.

I love these boots.
But I also love the slippers
we’ve made of our love -

the warm, mmm-so-cozy,
still-sturdy-after-so-many-years slippers.

But tonight, there are great, odiferous, pestilent
hydras to contain and a coven waiting for me to rise.
“The hydra doesn’t stand a chance,” you say
before we kiss and I fly.

Sherry: I love this! Especially, "the hydra doesn't stand a chance". 

Rommy: In Samantha's Shoes came about as a response to a prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads, Poetry Through the Eyes of Carol Ann Duffy. The prompt asked us to pay homage to Duffy's style by creating a love poem using a common every day image. 

I don't know what specifically called to me about creating a poem around beloved TV witch Samantha from the show Bewitched. Perhaps it was a perverse need to add an element of the fantastical anyway to the main conceit (the idea of a mature love being as comfortable as a cozy pair of slippers). Perhaps it's just that I love playing with a bit of pop culture from time to time in my poems. I've written about Molly Grue (from The Last Unicorn) and Phaedra no Delaunay (from Kushiel's Dart). Either way, I really was charmed by the way it turned out.

Sherry: And we are charmed as well. Thanks for this, Rommy.


Autumn licks at the corner of our existence 
We are all at once ready and able 
Time ticks on 
Hatter sings and Joker dances 
The peppermint clouds and cinnamon dust waft through the window
Another day
Another day 
Crisp leaves and gentle breezes 
We gather them up like treasures 
Keep them in our pocket
Wait for another year
Another year
I am sure that the breeze will come and wash away the darkness
Autumn comes
Winter stays 
Summer lingers in the background 
We will wait and gather stones 
Open the window and let the light prevail.

Sherry: I love the hope in this poem, opening the window to let the light prevail. Beautiful, my friend.

Jae Rose: This poem came to be solely from the prompt at Midweek Motif: Autumn. I tried to make it more upbeat than my usual scribbles.

Sherry: And you succeeded, my friend.  Thank you for the share, and for lifting our hearts.

Thank you, Kelli, Rommy and Jae Rose, for the wonderful poems, which we very much enjoyed. And for your faithful participation at Poets United through the years. We so appreciate you.

Do come back, my friends, to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!