The feathered heart
Publication Year: 1998
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."
Published by: Michigan State University Press
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"As Native American literature reaches new levels of accomplishment, poets like Mark Turcotte will emerge and redefine everything we have known about this vibrant genre. The Feathered Heart proves the deepest and most personal memories are entryways into the poetic spirit that has shaped Native writing for the past century."
The Eye Shakes
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"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."
Horse and Cradle
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"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."
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"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."
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"As a child I danced to the heartful, savage rhythm of the Native, the American Indian, Patti Smith in the Turtle Mountains, in the Round Hall, in the greasy light of kerosene lamps."
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"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."
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"One little two little three little four little five little six little seven little eight little nine little ten little."
Room Still Full of Death
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"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..."
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"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,"
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"He often found himself, late at night, looking to the skies, imagining the stars as razors scraping up against the..."
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"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."
Sky Breathes Sky
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"Earth woman I am made of you, the strong clay of you builds my bones, the soft clay,"
Flying With the Wind
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"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..."
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"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."
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"Years later, after we escaped you and the reservation, I was seventeen, strong and still very angry, and I was visiting there, when I recognized you."
And Betty Jean
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"He came back quietly, crooked, his face longer, the deep green jungle sweating from his eyes. He came back falling, fingers pushing through his hair, covering his ears."
Under Gray Gods
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"Fall into autumn, where the hours lay cold in the thin branches and the leaves all scatter, erasing the ground, to pillow against the fences lining the fields."
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"I remember it was winter and my hair was longer than it had ever been. We were together in the basement, with that sweet smoky juice invading our veins, and I remember the ember reflecting in her eye."
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"Nuevos amantes Indios rise together on a motel bed. Drenched in pink and blue neon, their shadows spill across the floor."
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"I was EI Indio, the night of the dance. Down along the border whirling, I watched her whirl to Tejano guitars, while golden, beckoning birds flew from beneath her shimmering skirt."
Leads You To Water
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"Woman, I'm dreaming of you out there on the desert, out there at the edge of the world, with your bare feet padding down the dust, your eyes grazmg the red yellow horizon."
The Boy Dances
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"The boy dances around the drum. His feet rise and fall. Sweat flies from his hair and sizzles in the circle. His heart is a fist of blood, clenched in the rhythm of the drum. The boy dances. His feet rise and fall. He sees the woman standing on the edge of the circle. The stark whiteness of her hands, the whiteness of her face. Her eyes, the light in her eyes."
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"It is time to let the old Gods speak again. It is time for the choking dust of the old and wispy One to be brushed away by the wings of new angels we."
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"Old man, I stood over you in your box, and when I reached to touch your gray folded hands,"
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"All the stars that fell last night hissing in the wet street, they go on burning guiding light, in this wind this you that lives now forever in my hair, forever now at the tips of my fingers."
The Flower On
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"If you were the flower on this blanket, resting soft upon my shoulder,"
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"Long before this light, before that first star was ever wished upon, you were a twinkle in the universe's eye,"
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"Our God has slept and dreamed us here, and from the sweat of dream comes the sweet scent of vision."
Amber On Opal
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"Nights, in the heated den of our bed, two animals in each other's fur, nips and growls and groans, my thundering blood drawn by your anxious claw,"
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"Hot flashes burn tiny holes in my one long, cool memory. Dreams, scenes tumble from my hair into the rain-slick street, flowing streams into the gutter, oily rainbows..."
Chippewa Hitch Hike
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"Hitch-hiking last night (and in between the shine of headlights) I fell..."
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"I walk I run with you. I give I take. I hide I seek I Sun I Moon with you. I rain I shine with you. I flower. I sleep I wake. I fall I rise with you. I laugh I weep I dark I light with you. I pause."
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"Motherdrum motherdrum, more than hushed the rhythm is crushed, muffled, beneath the weight of plodding footsteps, turning wheels and smoking stacks."
Ten Thousand Thousand Bones
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"From long away, from behind museum doors, from darkly dusty rooms, I hear Grandmother rattling, she rattles, among ten thousand thousand bones, I hear Grandmother rattling, she rattles."
Brother River Dreams
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"In ripples, becoming waves, unyielding he unchanging he flows down, from the woodlands and the marshes of northwest Ontario, brother river dreams..."
Cyrus Calls For His Pony
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"When they buried you, Cyrus, I was ashamed of the casket and the lid, knowing how you dreamed of a breathing cradle of moss and ferns, knowing that you grumbled and staggered to Mass, under the heat of your crooked suit, only to make your woman happy.
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"He thinks he slouches at the bar, staring down at the last drink in the bottom of his glass."
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"When my brother loves me, he calls me Anishinaabe,"
Song for the Endless Others
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"Mornings at my kitchen table, drinking coffee while the city rumbles low, I see the Endless Others, who live within the walls, as they linger in the doorways, sit upon the window sills, spin blade to blade, fan to fan across the ceiling and flutter to the floor."
The Poets Coming
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"They will not be born, instead shall fly from the mouths of earthen angels, all ebony and embered eyes, they shall fly from the claypot skins of desert skies, shall rise in light from the forest floor, out of the mossy river rocks, shall rise in light."
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"Once tried to kill it, the dark animal pacing in my chest with all my demons wrapped around its tail."
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"In dreamtime it is winter and I lean back into a tree. My hair is long, silver with dusk, my hands curled closed."
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"The sky is black and milky as I rest on this foreign shore, feeling as if I'm looking down from someplace higher."
Page Count: 75
Publication Year: 1998