Literary Orphans

Three Day Road
by Janet Rogers

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dirt doesn’t want to stay down
welcome winds of change whip through
nothing gets put back in place,
dust storms like rain clouds
appear like Halloween Goblins,
peeling earth sounds like lost love
left on horizons, behind, forgotten
wide open air, long sad stretches, sky
reaches down tenderly kisses the earth, holding hands for a while
commanding gravity to stay only
leaving too early rearranging landscapes escaping change.

no one travels roads
where birds are left hovering, not moving backwards or forwards
just struggling against wind
sacrificial plastic bags plant themselves like flags
and wave their mono coloured confessions to anyone who cares to listen
evidence of man and nature whatever

ice water now the temperature of tea sustains
until the next rez stop, re stop, re start
life elevated in Utah, gawd hours honoured in Arizona
tumble weeds and raw earth, looks like open battle wounds, gorges
burnt earth sage brush holy land hot souls long roads ash-fault
bill-borders built on the backs of blackhispanics
descent warnings foreshadowing rocks falling
sun blocked bright rays make way for end of day rain
don’t drink the poison, don’t-you-dare sigh with boredom
hot winds die pulling down cloud poetry
faces, places, displaces, wide open Red
horses of courses

this land is my favourite song that skips at my favourite part
that floats like boats from another land
rough ride, perilous endless packing experience
conquered with confidence
we are promised ice cream for goodness
parcels of land expand in price buy a ticket, win a farm,
the canyons aren’t kidding, the bluffs aren’t bluffing
the towns aren’t turning don’t give it a second thought

and all the creative critter names;
devil’s canyon, eagle ridge, rattle snake lake, fox tail trail, horse pass, billy goat harbour
dead man’s cliff, Indian Joe Lookout, Buffalo Landing, Prairie Fox Foothill, Raven’s Ridge, Sleeping Giant mountain,

dried up under water world spitting back time
elevations challenge, motivations question
the blocked hearts are connected but autumn comes fast
forward forth a home for the free a home for the brave

broken barriers land borders
unbelievable scenarios that put people in their place
and trace them back to somewhere fake
where the idea of original is absolutely lost
but tell it like legends cobbled from inaccuracies
nationalism is a blank buffet so fulfilling feeding the starving
its okay to forget who we are for a while
not forever never forever

did I die? am I dreaming? I am drunk
I’ve never seen the world look so beautiful
the political is ironical all the talk dismisses this
this is where food comes from this is where the moon lives too.
the light makes love to the land every day
we stay here and play in this home all of this is home

suicidal plastic bags, frozen poses of road kill critters,
rivers, where women’s bodies are littered
so many to make the two synonymous, Green River
this is a-merry-merry-merra-ca of visitor settlers
and those who lay claim rest in peace

is this where peace fell? is this where the arrows got broken
is this where the two sides collided in deadly dust-up
don’t’ trust the lakes, they have collected the lies of years
in the rain that fell from the sky
the lakes are busy cleansing and processing the deceit of strangers
recycled back to the sky to fall down again, cleansed
and lifted back up to become a better truth, less lie
the years will make it perfect, the perfect lie

west is best east is worst, north is nothing southern is comfort
east is angry, north is naughty, the west rests while the south offers wise rocks
the mountain brushes crumbs from her lapel
sending gravel re-routing travellers homeward
news reports nothing the rocks don’t already know
and the road bends a little, it sends the dust flying
it wants to stay wide open, it wants to marry the clouds
and give birth to new paths from the same old roads

here, a ten-mile wing-span doesn’t even touch the sides
this is forever, the energy expands, never ending don’t stop for anyone
the great mystery will bring you into who you who you who you
really are – life’s a bitch, you needn’t fear it

the moon has finished its coffee and is just hang’n around
for the next time to shine, it likes to see things in day-light
compliments the sun when things look good
before waving goodbye tucking in tired before returning
of this we can be sure you needn’t fear it

the moon likes to see if anyone will write new legends about it
wants to hear its stories retold to see if they are still true
can you write about the moon without romance,
or righteous moral, something that won’t insult
something occult, the moon will approve
it likes all the gossip offered, the moon loves celebrity
it loves to be included in the glamour magazines
posing in all the pictures with all the stars
that’s why the moon hangs around
so we don’t forget about her, we like her shine

controlled roads say, go here, don’t go there, follow
no passing, absolutely no passing
I’ve got my poems, I’ve got my sage, I’ve got my corn
I’ve got my rocks, I’ve got the memories that made the poems,
I’ve got the medicine of root, I’ve got the pictures, I’ve got my songs,
I’ve got my blanket, I’ve got my pillow, I’ve got my sounds, I’ve got my eyes,
I’ve got my feet, I’ve got my voice, I’ve got my fingers, I’ve got my time change and
the way of it

the people don’t speak of land, they speak of the people
who speak of industry that speaks in big fat numbers but never bigger than
the horizon that holds them or deeper than the canyons where they’ll fall
west-side stories ( America-ca-ca-ca) never talks about the land
only commerce and how many times they can
come inside her

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 (Ed- to read this poem with properly justified line breaks, please click this link for a pure-text version, make sure the window is at the highest resolution!)

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Janet is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations band in southern Ontario. She was born in Vancouver British Columbia and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people (Victoria, British Columbia) since 1994. Janet works in the genres of poetry, short fiction, spoken word performance poetry, video poetry and recorded poems with music and script writing. Janet has three published poetry collections to date; Splitting the Heart, Ekstasis Editions 2007, Red Erotic, Ojistah Publishing 2010, Unearthed, Leaf Press 2011. She is presently creating a new collection to be published with Talon Books late 2014. Her poetry CD titled Firewater 2009, gained nominations for best spoken word recording at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and the Native American Music Awards. You can hear Janet on the radio as she hosts Native Waves Radio on CFUV fm and Tribal Clefs on CBC fm in Victoria BC. Her radio documentary “Bring Your Drum” (50 years of indigenous protest music) won Best Radio at the imagaineNATIVE Film and Media festival 2011. She was also commissioned to create a radio art piece by the same company that same year.

Ojistah Publishing (Mohawk word for star) is Janet’s publishing label. ikkwenyes or Dare to Do is the name of the collective both Alex Jacobs and Janet started in 2011. Through the collective they produced a poetry CD titled “Got Your Back” nominated for Best Album Cover Design APCMA 2012 and nominated for Best Spoken Word at the Native American Music Awards 2013. Ikkwenyes won a Loft Literary Prize 2013 from which they will create poetry based performance art that promote the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) culture.

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–Foreground art by Brent Bluehouse
–Background art by Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu