a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Susan Deer Cloud


A Winter Dream of Neruda

You accidentally stumble again on that spot

in Chile’s mountains, secret forest where

the long dirt road’s capricious roots and rocks

jut up to defy any squealing tires bringing

in the jeeps of the anti-poets wearing pistols

and waving machine guns. Every fascist knows

writers are like mice able to disappear down

the invisible labyrinths of the silence beneath

tropes, why it is such fun to torture them in cellars

when those fucking freedom lovers get caught

and pain twists their songs to squeaks. But

 

on this night only you have found the way

to the border arrogant enough to split Argentina

from Chile, staggering through black woods

yet seeing clearly as if it were high noon,

monkey puzzle trees asymmetries against

a sky of so many stars they touch light to light.

Your feet are stopped by a moss-covered log

shaped like a whale, you kneel to feel

the soft spongy green which shocks you into

realizing this is another poet, this is el maestro

Pablo Neruda garbed in an emerald coat,

 

beached across Pachamama where amigos

brought him to escape across the Andes to another

country, fleeing los Carabineros planning to blow

out his brain and its bravery of visions. You lay

your own body near Pablo’s, close as possible,

curving frail arm around him in an embrace

not easy to accomplish when he is of the vastness

of seas and skies, when you are growing older

and smaller. Is he dead? Is he sleeping?

You pray to preserve him, starlight to starlight

igniting a trembling fire.


Wolf Moon

This year’s Wolf Moon January 28th …

night my sister was born in 1959, so late

the weary family doctor scribbled down

her birth as the 29th and ever after we celebrated

the newcomer’s birthday for two days in a row.

My mother gave birth at home, in the bedroom

Erelene was conceived in, and I knew the surprise

of her was because daily I prayed for a sister

to join me and three teasing brothers. My family

didn’t own a television or telephone, innocence

served as my guardian angel, kissing was as wild

as love got. Stepping out on upstairs deck,

 

I push through thigh high snow to watch the Wolf Moon

rise above Catskill mountain beyond river valley, light

so fierce it howls, fragmented by bare branches windblown

and clouds galloping across plague sky like Appaloosas

I dreamed of riding during those years I whispered my sister

into being. Later we dreamed together of horses,

“part Indian” girls gleaming in fragments like this end

of January moon playing peek-a-boo with clouds tinted

violet like Erelene’s blue eyes first time I saw her

in the lamps’ soft shine, from our mother’s arms

smiling up at me, my brothers and father. Winter

of enchantment in which we would never grow old.


Blue Glacier, Patagonia

photo of Blue Glacier behind a lake, under a purple cloudy sky

Blue Glacier, Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, Patagonia

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Susan Deer Cloud, a mixed lineage Catskill Native, lives in her birth place of wild birds, wild animals, wild land, wild storytellers and wild singers of free spirit. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and two New York State Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellowships, her writing has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Her most recent books are Hunger Moon, Before Language and The Way to Rainbow Mountain (Shabda Press). Until the Covid-19 plague, she split her time between her beloved mountains and roving in the Americas, Canada, and Europe. Currently she is holing up in a winter hinterland haze, writing her next book rooted in the far flung migrations of her ancestresses and all that connects rather than estranges us on this sacred Mother Earth.

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