Dec 26, 2010

1.2. nila northSun: 3 poems

boomerang kid

they call this generation
boomerang kids
1 in 7 grown kids returning
to the parent's home
maybe while they go to college
maybe when they lose their jobs
maybe when new marriages fail
and now i find my daughter
with her 3 year old
sleeping on an air mattress
in the living room
of my small 1 bedroom apartment

today i ate my cereal
on my bed and didn't cook bacon
as my kitchen is where
their sleeping heads lay
i didn't watch the morning news
as that is where
their feet and clothes boxes are

today i will see about getting
wireless internet
so she can do job searches
on friday when i get paid
we will go grocery shopping
so she can pick foods she likes
maybe next week i will make
a doctor's appointment
to get valium my chill-pills
anticipating frayed nerves
though i love them both
i'm used to my oneness with myself.


3rd day of spring
snow flurries and whipping wind
i see a mama pushing a stroller
barefoot baby no hat no gloves
i circle the block and park
go looking for this mama
and say 'where's your baby's socks?
where's your baby's shoes?'
she says 'you don't know me'
i say 'i don't but i'm a gramma of
a 1 year old and a 2 year old and a momma of others'
and this isn't right
and take off my gloves and put them
on his feet
he's not fussing or crying
he's just accepting the freezing
'what's his name?'
'jeramiah' how old? one.
i say come with me and she does
i go to my car where i have my
baby car seat and rummage among
the toys to find a hat and blanket
and snackie foods and a toy
she says bless you and goes off
i run up to my apartment find socks
find a warm coat and run back down
but she's gone
i drive around looking for her
all gone
i stand on my balcony looking
over the city blocks
jeramiah may you find warmth
in the cold
coolness in desert heat
and food for your tiny belly
give your momma strength
to make a life beyond homeless.

braking for pigeons

in these trying times
when all the news seems bad
when son-in -law loses his job
along with 3 million others
when co-worker loses house
to foreclosure
all the headlines come
to roost

when nevada's stats
for elders show
twice the national average
in suicide
and heavy alcohol use
could cause a
non-smoker to light one up
down a shot
and think of ways out
of this life

the car next to me
slows to a stop
as a pigeon struts in
that lane and then
crosses to mine
i do not slow
as he takes wing
knowing full well how
to negotiate downtown
i am amused at the driver
expecting an excitable
teenage girl
or old peta member
instead see
a middle-aged hispanic man
a toothpick clenched in his teeth
no doubt freeing a
chunk of meat wedged
in his cuspids
and i laugh
cause now
more than ever
laughing is important.

nila northSun, of Shoshone-Chippewa descent, is the daughter of renowned Native American activist, Adam Fortunate Eagle - one of the more prominent figures in the 1969-1971 Indian takeover of Alcatraz. She is identified with the Native American Renaissance of the 1970s and 1980s; her poem "moving camp too far" remains a sentinel work of the period. northSun has published three volumes of poetry, a snake in her mouth; Small Bones, Little Eyes; and Diet Pepsi and Nacho Cheese; and authored After the Drying Up of the Water: A Tribal History, a history of the Paiute-Shoshone tribe. She lives on the Stillwater Indian Reservation in Fallon, Nevada, where she works as a grant writer. Her poems bridge family history and traditional tribal identity with the challenges of being a contemporary American woman.

You can find nila's latest book, love at gunpoint, here.

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