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  #11  
Unread 01-10-2020, 08:15 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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I put that poem up, underlining that it was the one most like your argument but that even in this one (which isn't among my favorites) there is a message that is different then what you reduce it to. It is in a form that is shared by many of the myths of North American peoples. It isn't the similarities to Eden that are interesting in these myths but the differences. Your complaints are strange to me and, to be honest, uninteresting. Even stranger is that now, as we enter the age of consequences for all we have wrecked and/or failed to live in balance with, you would find myths that engage that as old hat. Old hat is when you get something down and no longer need the lesson. When it is wisdom that is utterly ignored over and over again, the interesting thing is the tin ear.

Last edited by Andrew Mandelbaum; 01-10-2020 at 08:51 PM.
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  #12  
Unread 01-10-2020, 08:53 PM
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double post

Last edited by Andrew Mandelbaum; 01-10-2020 at 09:01 PM.
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  #13  
Unread 01-10-2020, 09:01 PM
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I like this series.


She Had Some Horses

I. She Had Some Horses

She had some horses.
She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
She had horses who were clay and would break.
She had horses who were splintered red cliff.

She had some horses.

She had horses with eyes of trains.
She had horses with full, brown thighs.
She had horses who laughed too much.
She had horses who threw rocks at glass houses.
She had horses who licked razor blades.

She had some horses.

She had horses who danced in their mothers' arms.
She had horses who thought they were the sun and their
bodies shone and burned like stars.
She had horses who waltzed nightly on the moon.
She had horses who were much too shy, and kept quiet
in stalls of their own making.

She had some horses.

She had horses who liked Creek Stomp Dance songs.
She had horses who cried in their beer.
She had horses who spit at male queens who made
them afraid of themselves.
She had horses who said they weren't afraid.
She had horses who lied.
She had horses who told the truth, who were stripped
bare of their tongues.

She had some horses.

She had horses who called themselves, "horse."
She had horses who called themselves, "spirit," and kept
their voices secret and to themselves.
She had horses who had no names.
She had horses who had books of names.

She had some horses.

She had horses who whispered in the dark, who were afraid to speak.
She had horses who screamed out of fear of the silence, who
carried knives to protect themselves from ghosts.
She had horses who waited for destruction.
She had horses who waited for resurrection.

She had some horses.

She had horses who got down on their knees for any saviour.
She had horses who thought their high price had saved them.
She had horses who tried to save her, who climbed in her
bed at night and prayed as they raped her.

She had some horses.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.



II. Two Horses

I thought the sun breaking through Sangre de Cristo
Mountains was enough, and that
wild musky scents on my body after
long nights of dreaming could
unfold me to myself.
I thought my dance alone through worlds of
odd and eccentric planets that no one else knew
would sustain me. I mean
I did learn to move
after all
and how to recognize voices other than the most familiar.
But you must have grown out of
a thousand years dreaming
just like I could never imagine you.
You must have
broke open from another sky
to here, because
now I see you as a part of the millions of
other universes that I thought could never occur
in this breathing.
And I know you as myself, traveling.
In your eyes alone are many colonies of stars
and other circling planet motion.
And then your fingers, the sweet smell
of hair, and
your soft, tight belly.
My heart is taken by you
and these mornings since I am a horse running towards
a cracked sky where there are countless dawns
breaking simultaneously.
There are two moons on the horizon
and for you
I have broken loose.



III. Drowning Horses

She says she is going to kill
herself. I am a thousand miles away.
Listening.
To her voice in an ocean
of telephone sound. Grey sky
and nearly sundown; I don't ask her how.
I am already familiar with the weapons:
a restaurant that wouldn't serve her,
the thinnest laughter, another drink.
And even if I weren't closer
to the cliff edge of the talking
wire, I would still be another mirror,
another running horse.

Her escape is my own.
I tell her, yes. Yes. We ride
out for breath over the distance.
Night air approaches, the galloping
other-life.

No sound.
No sound.



IV. Ice Horses

These are the ones who escape
after the last hurt is turned inward;
they are the most dangerous ones.
These are the hottest ones,
but so cold that your tongue sticks
to them and is torn apart because it is
frozen to the motion of hooves.
These are the ones who cut your thighs,
whose blood you must have seen on the gloves
of the doctor's rubber hands. They are
the horses who moaned like oceans, and
one of them a young woman screamed aloud;
she was the only one.
These are the ones who have found you.
These are the ones who pranced on your belly.
They chased deer out of your womb.
These are the ice horses, horses
who entered through your head,
and then your heart,
your beaten heart.

These are the ones who loved you.
They are the horses who have held you
so close that you have become
a part of them,
an ice horse
galloping
into fire.



V. Explosion

The highway near Okemah, Oklahoma exploded

They are reasons for everything
Maybe there is a new people, coming forth
being born from the center of the earth,
like us, but another tribe.

Maybe they will be another color that no one
has ever seen before. Then they might be hated,
and live in Muskogee on the side of the tracks
that Indians live on. (And they will be the
ones to save us.)

Maybe there are lizards coming out of rivers of lava
from the core of this planet,

coming to bring rain

to dance for the corn,
to set fields of tongues slapping at the dark
earth, a kind of a dance.

But maybe the explosion was horses,
bursting out of the crazy earth
near Okemah. They were a violent birth,
flew from the ground into trees
to wait for evening night
mares to come after them:

then into the dank wet fields of Oklahoma
then their birth cords tied into the molten heart
then they travel north and south, east and west
then into wet while sheets at midnight when everyone
sleeps and the baby dreams of swimming in the
bottom of the muggy river.
then into frogs who have come out of the earth to
see for rain
then a Creek woman who dances shaking the seeds in
her bones
then South Dakota, Mexico, Japan, and Manila
then into Miami to sweep away the knived faces of
hatred

Some will not see them.

But some will see the horses with their hearts of sleeping volcanoes
and will be rocked awake
past their bodies

to see who they have become.
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  #14  
Unread 01-10-2020, 10:07 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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The first of these is probably her best poem, and I've anthologized it several times.

The only problem with the horse as Nativist symbol is that horses, like most of us, are Eurasian-African immigrants.

Horses have to be tamed before they are of any use to people (other than as a source of food). I once read that Indians tamed them by mounting them and biting an ear.

Maybe that's a myth.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 01-10-2020 at 10:14 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 01-12-2020, 09:29 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R. S. Gwynn View Post
The only problem with the horse as Nativist symbol is that horses, like most of us, are Eurasian-African immigrants.

Horses have to be tamed before they are of any use to people (other than as a source of food). I once read that Indians tamed them by mounting them and biting an ear.

Maybe that's a myth.
This post is exacty the fault line.

Animals aren't symbols or use items, the are people groups.
There is a spectrum of human/non-human interaction that runs from domestication to co-evolution. As we probably learned as much from our early interactions with dogs as they did from us, so an animist relation with the horse people might find them quite "useful" before taming. I don't know much about the Creek people's interaction with horses but your reduction of the relation bears little resemblance to the relation on record between hunter gatherer peoples and the animals they are most intergated with. Not that there isn't a spectrum in all peoples of awake/sensitive downward into cruel/utilitarian. But in general...My studies rely more on Siberian and Inuit peoples as well as South America and Australia but I would hazard a guess that you are way off on this.

I don't recognize your experience of her poems, to be honest. You seem entrenched in the literal and the anthrocentric. You start the work by locking yourself out of it. I don't want the thread to be a platform for you to sort of condescend to her work publically. I was just wondering if anybody was down with the importance of this kind of voice as the laureate. Or even otehr poets writing from similar worlds. Why don't you leave off with the faint praise now. We disagree.

There will be a new laureate soon I imagine. I don't put much stock in the process of laureate-ing in any case. But you verge on bad manners here. There is so much in her work that isn't centered in this sick culture. Try silence on what you don't personally fire to if burns in other minds. I have been on the wrong side of similar impulses. Trying to quit. Maybe, let it go?
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  #16  
Unread 01-12-2020, 06:48 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Sorry, Andrew. I had no idea that you're Native-American. Anyway, I have done plenty to advance Harjo's career. What have you done other than send smoke signals? There are poets whose artistry one can admire without buying into their mythos. Pound, for example.
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  #17  
Unread 01-18-2020, 09:01 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Sorry, Sam. I had no idea you were a such a powerful white man. Nifty smoke signal metaphor. Totally not telling. I don't read animism as an ideology to be purchased like Pound's facism or as especially belonging to Harjo. I am not defending careers or even considering them but I get why capital organizes your thoughts along those lines. I think lives are threatened by the inability to remember what you dismiss as a mythos here. I didn't have to purchase anything but I am all the way in on an old way of seeing that is just as much part of European ancestry as it is this land's. It isn't the same as Harjo's but it isn't unrelated.

I didn't like your internet person before you pissed on the thread. I like it less now. What you think of me is kind of irrelevant to me but knock yourself out, Killer. As for what we do to benefit the things we believe in, anybody who thinks that that will show up in a internet forum is silly. Anybody who thumps their chest about advancing the art of others by simply giving a place it deserves is hard for me to trust as a critic.

I found her work timely and exciting. I never imagined that Harjo needed me or I was doing something for her. I need her. I found your way of commenting condescending and neither useful or particularly insightful. The combination was annoying. You know why you did it. When I put something down I always know why. Sometimes I know better than to do it. Maybe you don't.

Last edited by Andrew Mandelbaum; 01-18-2020 at 09:13 AM.
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  #18  
Unread 01-20-2020, 06:43 PM
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Andrew, your virtue rises higher than your smoke. You seem oblivious to the fact that Harjo, like most of us, was educated in a tradition that includes a little Marx, a little Freud, a little Emerson/Thoreau, a little Jung. Whatever mythos she relies on in her poetry is not purely Nativist but a mixture of pain, nostalgia, personal grievance, and public success. I think poets end up finding a useful mythos they can build on. With Pound it was a crackpot economic theory; with Eliot a stultifying high churchism; with Whitman a sexualized transcendentalism; with Jeffers an apocalyptic certainty; with Rich a radical sexual politics. I won't even get into Yeats, but a lot of it was just plain silly (as some poet said). You seem consistent with many evangelicals who are hoping for an end-times soon, one in which they shall receive their just deserts for acting just like their friends. Whatever gets you through the day is fine with me, but I'm past converting to anything. Have you ever heard of "negative capability"? It's an idea that Keats had after he saw a really bad movie he thoroughly enjoyed.
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