Poets’ Basement

Reading the Names, 9/11/2011

Today I stood under sky,
violet at dawn then moving
to rain by noon.

I started reading
the names of the dead …

every Indian who died
in terrorist attacks
beginning with Columbus.

Thunder cracked nearby
and made me think of the guns.

I remembered the ghosts
beaded with bullet holes,
the ones in canoes

who wave to me
from the Susquehanna.

I prayed they fared okay
in this week’s flood and will eat
pancakes once more at Manny’s Diner.

I read until twilight mists
silvered in.  Raindrops wet

my lips like multiple delicate kisses.
I wondered if ghosts kiss …
maybe more delicate than this.

When the rain stopped
I watched a star shine out.

The terrorists stole my language
so the names shone out mute.
My heart knew

the dark city was still
in a state of emergency.

Susan Deer Cloud is a Métis Indian of Mohawk/Seneca/Blackfoot lineage.  An alumna of Binghamton University (M.A. & B.A.) and Goddard College (MFA), she has received various awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, two New York State Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (most recent NYFA Fellowship awarded in summer 2011), a Chenango County Council for the Arts Literature Grant, First Prize in Allen Ginsberg Poetry Competition (twice), Prairie Schooner’s Readers’ Choice Award, and Native American Wordcraft Circle Editor’s Award for her multicultural anthology Confluence.

Deer Cloud’s poems and stories have been published in numerous journals and anthologies (Sister Nations: an Anthology of Native Women Writers on Community, Unsettling America & Identity Lessons multicultural anthologies, American Indian Culture & Research Journal, Yellow Medicine Review, To Topos (Poetry International), Florida Review, Mid-American Review, Ms. Magazine, Prairie Schooner, Many Mountains Moving, North Dakota Quarterly, Quarterly West, Earth’s Daughters, Shenandoah, Blood Lotus, Exquisite Corpse, Pembroke Magazine, Stone Canoe, Paterson Literary Review, Helicon Nine, etc.).  Her most recent books are The Last Ceremony and Car Stealer (FootHills Publishing) and Braiding Starlight (published by Split Oak Press, October 2010).  Our Parallel Universe, New & Selected Poems is forthcoming from University of New Orleans Press.

Deer Cloud has edited two anthologies ~ multicultural Confluence and Native anthology I Was Indian (Before Being Indian Was Cool) ~ plus the 2008 Spring Issue of Yellow Medicine Review, a Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art & Thought.  She is now an adviser to Yellow Medicine. Currently she is editing the Re-Matriation Chapbook Series of Indigenous Poetry for FootHills Publishing, as well as a special Native issue for on-line journal Big Bridge (to be published in early 2012).  She is on the Board of YANAN (You Are Not Alone) non-profit Native organization for preventing suicide among Native American young people.  She will be on two panels at the 2012 AWP Conference in Chicago. 



A car bomb killed thirty-five.
Here in the heat, a warm mist

curtained swaying trees.
Children ran and skipped about,

shouting and laughing, our new
bomb makers in joy and glory.

Driving through Arizona
we spent the night
in an abandoned hogan.

Sitting cross-legged
on ancient ground, we
stared at the sunset

blazing in light drizzle
and that bold rainbow
straddling red spires

like a mythic spirit,
the one they also saw,
riding brave ponies fast

and true across the valley,
long before the criminals


Overthrowing Ourselves

Fire burns
at the edge
of thought,
eating the dark.
Out here
those left roar
at the sky,
red dirt,
of the human

Paul Lojeski was born and raised in Lakewood, Ohio and formally educated in the public schools there.  He attended Oberlin College.  His poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, ABZ, Right Hand Pointing and Counterpunch.  His poem, I’m No Pacifist, won the 2010 Green Heron Poetry Contest.  He lives with his wife and daughter in Port Jefferson, NY.

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