Geomantic Riposte: Songs to Kill a Wîhtikow

Neal McLeod defines himself as half Cree (having grown up on the James Smith reserve in Saskatchewan) and half Swedish, and has studied at the Swedish Art Academy at Umeå . He has exhibited his art work throughout Canada, including in the 2005 exhibition au fil de mes jours (in my lifetime) at Le Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, an exhibition remounted at the Museum of Civilization in 2007. McLeod’s first book of poetry, Songs to Kill a Wîhtikow, a book graced by colour plates featuring his dynamic artwork, was nominated for several Saskatchewan book awards and book of the year at the Anskohk McNally Aboriginal Literature Awards. His second book of poetry is entitled Gabriel’s Beach. A teacher of Indigenous Studies at Trent University in Ontario, McLeod is currently editing two highly topical works, a volume entitled Indigenous Poetics with Randy Lundy and Natasha Beeds, and also an anthology entitled Cîhcêwêsin: new writing from indigenous Saskatchewan.

In The Fieldstone Review, Tyler McCreary and Richard Milligan elaborated on McLeod’s metaphoric usage of common lore among the Cree in Songs to Kill a Wîhtikow:

This oppressive darkness enters McLeod's poetry most prominently in the titular figure of the wîhtikow. Wîhtikow is a cannibal. Antisocial in the extreme, the wîhtikow turns inward from society and consumes other beings for his own narrowly conceived benefit. Within his poetry and art, McLeod deploys the wîhtikow as a powerful metaphor for the greed and individualism consuming our society, which he describes as "the attempt to swallow the light from the sky of the world."

Songs to Kill a Wîhtikow by Neal McLeod (Hagios Press, 2005, Page 75)

 

I cast deep every time

like the old man in the sea

they might take our country

but dammit, they can’t take our love

I am like junkie needing my fix

my love, wrapping my vein

getting ready to score

 

the ghetto, the hood

the inner city

the place before the suburbs

and after the reservation

young men pass through the streets

black handkerchiefs

in the place of headdresses

gold chains in the place

of breast plates

g-notes instead of Cree notes

they trade their tribal lore

for gangster hustle

 

Geomantic Riposte:  Receipts

 

Must have been a lugubrious day on Coast Salish Territory when I suffered

lack of a Kwakwaka’wakw box [] in TurboTax®      packed up my cannibal

bird monster who bared it for airport screening and they did not like what

they saw      nor did I after ten thousand years, startled by the smell of “the

earth” and roving around winking at buffalo, trying to convince them they

have little to live for      unfolding history with a barbed tongue over a cow

bone at Montana’s Cookhouse with a bastardization of Vancouver’s name

that sounds like a Dutch cow-crossing     my hand was forced, like Quadra

y Whatever to sign away my proud conquest via “sensuous genius” but at

Sâkêwêwak the little pups must put up with my West Coast “chicken talk”

just the kind of promotional buzz at Fan Expo to pitch to the guy with five

lines in Wolfcop the Movie this sweet Bakbakwalanooksiwae vs. Wîhtikow

franchise though I have this quirk of eating the wealth we are giving away

and I did settle on those pants at the Bay         however demoralizing trading

posts can be they were for sale like everything in the big static picture, bro