Geomantic Riposte: Unearthed

A Mohawk writer from the Six Nations band in southern Ontario, Janet Marie Rogers was born in Vancouver BC and has resided in Victoria BC since 1994, where she is currently rounding out her three year term as that capital city’s Poet Laureate. A published and award-winning poet, she has many notable works to her name and in a variety of media. Roger’s radio documentary Bring Your Drum (50 Years of Indigenous Protest Music) has aired on CBC and won the Best Radio award at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival in 2011. As outspoken as she is judicious (and also called a spiritual descendant of the lively Mohawk poet Pauline Johnson by poet and playwright Daniel David Moses), Rogers demonstrates in her collection Unearthed her ability to combine spoken word protest with more formalistic page poetry, and also her catalytic role when sharing her gutsy, realistic, and inspirational voice for First Nations people on either side of the 49th Parallel (for those who believe in such a thing).

Unearthed by Janet Rogers (Leaf Press, 2011, Page 72)

 

each night he greets

the blue clad lads

offering to escort him home

his magic does not work on them

entire cities can be erected

in the gaps of their misunderstanding

drunken shaman

is not a victim

he chose to be

the visual reminder

of our delicate successes

teaches us what not to teach

the children

and he survives

a life

many of us

could not

 

 Geomantic Riposte:  Grapple

 

there is no pamphlet for this           incoherence         the

text no larger than the limbs of fleas        writ in a   

language that has long gone by              passed along

through elemental

shifts                         signs that are opaque           roving

across strange plains to our West Coast <question

mark>

          Pauline & Pound snacking back Long-

fellow

      dipped in Swinburne

           hiding history in hollows of trees            North

          before the linguistic split,         before movement

what were we to one another

                                                                         heed this cry

for strength and clemency         suo moto cognizance

grasp this abrupt boule-

versement

               of recontextualized charms

                                                   and portage enough light

and magic

               to grapple with the small

                                                slate-coloured thing