Black Snake

This poem won Editor's Choice in the 2019 2-Day Poem Contest

a love poem for Justin Trudeau

in Ojibwe languages there are no words for the past

or the future, there are three words for now—

already, at this time, then now; today, nowadays

now; and after a while, eventually, finally just now

—Paraphrasing of an Elder Teaching

I. azhigwa: jibwaa-maadamandam

 

Sun circles our bodies on his way

to kiss Moon—we eat fresh pickerel,

brook trout, wide mouth bass—gorge

on each-others’ body heat

 

fast for ode-imin—pump fire

in the water of our veins

are warned about you

 

do not listen

 

 

toboggan towards

snow covered

land

 

II. noongom: megwaa’giiwanimotaw wa’awe

 

     I want to scissor   you   out                   of my history

     but I am ensorcelled by the                   beaver pelt

     velour of our ancestors’ agree               ments inde’

     wiisagendam gide’ wiisagenda             mi mawi’ode

     aki wiisagishin into a state of               remembering

 

anishinaabewi-gichigami

                                                  naadowewi-

                                             gichigami

                       ininw

                      ewi-

                    gich                                            niigaani-

                  igami                                         gichigami

                                        waabishkiigoo-

                                              gichigami

 

III. bijiinag: noojimo’iwewin

 

          we weave our spirits back

             together—ningodokanzh—one

                   cluster of berries minjimendan

                                                                      s

                                                                          e

                                                                           r

                                                                           p

                                                                       e

                                                                     n

                                                                       t

                                                                          i

                                                                             n

                                                                                   e

                                                                                        around gnathic grief

                                                                                        there is no water left

                                                                                        to drink

Published online August 08 2019.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.