The Feathered Heart

The Feathered Heart

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by Mark Turcotte
     
 

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This revised and expanded edition of The Feathered Heart, Mark Turcotte's celebrated collection of Native American poetry, brings traditional oral culture to print. Torn, painful, vibrant, and full of hope, his poetry weaves together the multilayered and textured fabric of contemporary Native American urban and rural existence. Appropriately, each poem in

Overview

This revised and expanded edition of The Feathered Heart, Mark Turcotte's celebrated collection of Native American poetry, brings traditional oral culture to print. Torn, painful, vibrant, and full of hope, his poetry weaves together the multilayered and textured fabric of contemporary Native American urban and rural existence. Appropriately, each poem in The Feathered Heart possesses a deeply lyrical quality. Raw emotion echoes in Turcotte's voice, in his verse, in the things he sees. "Ten Thousand Thousand Bones," for example, "a poem about the desecration of Native American burial sites and objects by archeologists," is dedicated "to an ancient woman taken from the Earth near New Lenox, Illinois in the winter 1993/94."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780870134821
Publisher:
Michigan State University Press
Publication date:
05/28/1998
Series:
American Indian Studies Series
Edition description:
Revised
Pages:
65
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Feathered Heart


By Mark Andrew Turcotte

Michigan State University Press

Copyright © 1998 Mark Andrew Turcotte
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-87013-962-8



CHAPTER 1

    The Eye Shakes

    I'm trying to remember what I do not remember.
    Images come in stuttering phrases, staccato, bent
    and broken, as if seen through the spokes of a
    madly spinning wheel. Flickering black and white
    clatters into color. The eye begins to shake, not
    wanting to remember.
    Images ... images ... images.
    The rusted bed of a speeding pick-up truck. Two
    children hunkered down, hiding. A boy and a girl.
    Gravel spatters the underside of the truck. The
    boy lifts his head, peers over the tailgate. A car is
    following, one headlight shining. The boy sees,
    faintly, the Devil, crouching upon the hood of the
    car, laughing. The eye begins to shake.


    Horse and Cradle

    for Dorothea Marie


    She, white woman, fell
    in love with the
    black wave
    of his hair, with
    the way his
    voice rose up out of him
    from the Earth, the way
    his flirtatious hands fell
    over the strings of his guitar.
    She fell, white woman,
    in love with the
    points of his eyes, the soft
    circles they cut
    through her shoulders, with
    the way that he
    came to her bed dressed
    in savage feathers,
    her bed, where
    she climbed upon his
    copper brown
    horse of a back, where
    she carried the arrow in
    her heart, she
    became my mother,
    the gently, ever gently
    rocking cradle
    of my soul.


    Tiny Warriors

    Whose voice was first sounded on this land?

    Mahpiya Luta (Red Cloud)


    Jesse and me, we little boys,
    prance the top of the hill,
    galloping
    our wind horses
    through the tall grass whispering
    low across our
    brown backs.
    The voice of centuries
    murmurs old tongues,
    forgotten in our ears,
    familiar
    to the feather in our hearts,
    remembered
    in the frenzy of our blood.
    The voice of centuries
    spins sacred sunlight song
    upon our heads,
    beneath our heels and
    we laughing, leaping
    tiny warriors
    ride and fall and ride and fall,
    we ride
    and all fall down the hill,
    the whispers fading,
    the skin of our chests
    stretched tight
    over heaving Ojibway drums.


    Flies Buzzing

    somewhere in america, in a certain state of grace ...

    Patti Smith


    As a child I danced
    to the heartful, savage
    rhythm
    of the Native, the
    American Indian,
    in the Turtle Mountains,
    in the Round Hall,
    in the greasy light of
    kerosene lamps.
    As a child I danced
    among the long, jangle legs of
    the men, down
    beside the whispering moccasin women,
    in close circles
    around the Old Ones,
    who sat at the drum,
    their heads tossed, backs arched
    in ancient prayer.
    As a child I danced away from the fist,
    I danced toward the rhythm of life,
    I danced into dreams, into
    the sound of flies buzzing.
    A deer advancing but clinging to the forest wall,
    the old red woman rocking in her tattered shawl,
    the young women bent, breasts
    drooping to the mouths of their young, the heat
    hanging heavy on the tips of our tongues,
    until the Sun
    burned the sky black, the moon
    made us silvery blue and
    all of the night sounds, all of the night sounds
    folded together with the buzzing
    still in our heads,
    becoming a chant of ghosts,
    of Crazy Horse and Wovoka
    and all the endless Others,
    snaking through the weaving through the trees
    like beams of ribbons of light,
    singing, we shall live again we shall live,
    until the Sun and the Sun and the Sun and I
    awaken,
    still a child, still dancing
    toward the rhythm of life.


    True Sign

    He was
    the first of all of them
    in his Sunday school class
    to memorize the "Lord's Prayer,"
    the first to mumble,
    go to Hell,
    as he slumped in a pew
    beside his mother.
    He knew
    it wasn't right, all of this
    combing his hair, tucking
    in his shirt tail,
    saving his dimes
    for the collection plate,
    getting down
    upon his knees
    to pray.
    So he
    would lie on his back
    in the summer grass
    of late Sunday morning
    and he
    would watch
    the sky
    for a true sign,
    a hawk
    arching toward the Sun,
    loosing a feather,
    floating falling,
    to land upon his bare brown chest.


    Indian Boys

    One little
    two little
    three little
    four little
    five little
    six little
    seven little
    eight little
    nine little
    ten little.
    Under the moon,
    that perfect ruby sky fruit,
    Indian boys pace
    or carve through the nightness
    in rusted cars,
    their thick lips
    wetted, glistening
    with the breath of sick roses
    and bad wine,
    while one sad feather swings
    upside down
    from the rearview mirror,
    brushing
    Catholic dust from
    the head of a cracked
    and yellow
    dashboard Madonna.


    Room Still Full of Death

    A flame
    within a lamp,
    upon a table,
    against the wall,
    below a clock,
    dripping time
    onto the floor,
    where shadows shake
    the smell of Earth
    from the boots
    of the man,
    as he listens
    to the moan
    of longing
    from the corner
    that is dark,
    and he whispers, harshly,
    sleep child,
    your mother
    is lying deep.


    Father's Dust


    The child was struck
    at a tender age
    with
    the dry-mouth taste
    of his father's dust,
    dust of lies,
    dust of rage,
    dust of wandering,
    dust of going away,
    then finally,
    the dust of never returning.
    The child was struck,
    gasping for air,
    parched,
    left choking
    on the memory
    growing in his throat.
    For his father
    made the Earth shudder
    beneath the fall
    of his foot,
    for his father
    made men tremble
    beneath the gust
    of his voice,
    for his father
    ate the sky
    with his teeth
    and
    with his hands
    dragged deep scars
    into the flesh
    of hearts
    of backs
    of minds
    into the flesh
    of dreams,
    for his father
    was the first
    to bruise the child
    with the fist of impatience,
    for his father
    was the first
    to rape the child
    with the body of shame,
    for his father
    was the first
    to sting the child
    with the tongue of hate.
    The child was struck
    at a tender age
    with
    the dry-mouth taste
    of his father's dust,
    for his father
    was the first
    to make the child
    want to spit.


    Window Glass

    for Bobbie


    He often found himself,
    late at night,
    looking
    to the skies,
    imagining the stars
    as razors
    scraping up against the
    blackness, as if
    it were all just a painted-over
    window glass and
    somewhere beyond there was another light.


    Unshadow

    And he dreamed of another light.
    Another light
    that would not fall
    in shafts or rays
    but instead be
    carried curved
    on the wind
    into all our darkest places.
    A light on the wind into
    every crack of
    every street of
    every house of
    every room, into
    every dimly known corner
    of every heart.
    A light of anger grace
    and healing
    curving on the wind
    to unshadow all those mouths
    filled with all those tiny whisperings,
    curving on the wind
    to unshadow all those eyes
    filled with all those tiny visions.
    A light of anger grace
    and healing
    curving on the wind
    to unshadow all those rough hands
    filled with every unwanted touch,
    curving on the wind
    to unshadow all those rough words
    filled with every unneeded cut.
    A light of anger grace
    and healing
    curving on the wind
    to unshadow every muffled refusal
    every defiled trust
    every stony denial,
    curving on the wind
    to unshadow every shadow.
    And as he dreamed
    he felt,
    over his shoulder,
    the wind
    beginning to shine.


    Sky Breathes Sky

    Earth woman I
    am made
    of you,
    the strong clay
    of you
    builds my bones,
    the soft clay,
    the milk
    of you
    falls in light
    from my eyes.
    Earth woman,
    your river rushes blood
    in my hands, rushes
    in my hips,
    filling me,
    your sky breathes sky breathes
    of me,
    your fire
    lives on my voice,
    whispers.
    Earth woman,
    the wind
    of you
    sighs, rises
    in my soul,
    the skin
    of you
    feathers my heart, the bird
    in my chest,
    that sings
    at the scent sight
    of you.
    Earth woman I
    am blessed,
    made of you.


    Flying With the Wind

    for Cyrus


    He is gone into the dust,
    flying with the wind
    over the turtle-backed hills
    into the far and the far and the far.
    He is gone
    into the trees,
    into the black earth,
    into the thick grass
    beneath my belly,
    where I am
    stretched out,
    cradling the pipe
    and remembering him.
    His gnarled, beadworking fingers
    are gone,
    his squinting gaze
    gone,
    his crooked mouth,
    his brittle bones
    and their creaking
    whenever he walked,
    whenever he reached
    to scratch his scalp
    with a stiff, stubborn thumb.
    Flying with the wind,
    his trembling voice
    is gone,
    his clicking Cree tongue,
    his laughter
    gone,
    with his wise heart
    and its ever-expanding embrace,
    and I roll over, I stand
    to the rising Sun,
    I light the pipe and I lift it
    to the highest point
    of the empty yellow sky.
    Flying with the wind,
    he is gone
    but for one puff
    of smoke from somewhere.


    Horse Dance

    I do not know where these words come from,
    it is the only way I can speak.
    Mike Puican

    We dream
    the pony of Crazy Horse
    twisting
    in a field
    of yellow hair,
    its nervous neck
    painted with
    a hail of stones,
    stomp
    step step
    stomp
    step step.
    We dream
    the pony of Crazy Horse
    dancing
    in a field
    of greasy grass,
    polishing its anxious hooves
    upon the buttons
    of Custer's coat,
    stomp
    step step
    stomp.
    We dream
    the pony of Crazy Horse
    leaping
    in a field
    of horses grazing,
    riderless,
    deaf to the distant wail of a widow
    crying,
    why my Georgie, why my Georgie why,
    stomp.
    We dream
    the pony of Crazy Horse
    rising
    in a field
    of bloodied flowers,
    where the horn
    of her husband's empty saddle
    is still decorated
    with the flesh of Lakota women,
    that is why my Georgie why,
    stomp
    step step
    step step ...


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Feathered Heart by Mark Andrew Turcotte. Copyright © 1998 Mark Andrew Turcotte. Excerpted by permission of Michigan State University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mark Turcotte, a Chippewa writer born of an Ojibway father and Irish- American mother, spent his earliest years on North Dakota's Turtle Mountain Reservation and in the migrant camps of the western United States. Later, he grew up in and around Lansing, Michigan. In 1993, he won the first Gwendolyn Brooks Open-Mic Poetry Award. Mark was named a 1999 Literary Fellow by the Wisconsin Arts Board, and has received a Lannan Foundation Literary Completion Grant for 2001-2002. He has been the recipient of a Community Residency from National Writer\'s Voice and was awarded the 1997 Josephine Gates Kelly Memorial Fellowship from the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Mark has written a number of books, both poetry and fiction.

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Feathered Heart 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah. Im sorry but u both no me.. i cant say or ull beat me up): soo yeahh.