Black Snake

This poem won Editor's Choice in 2-Day Poem Contest 2019

in Ojibwe languages there are no words for the past

or the future, there are three words for now—

already, at this time, then now; today, nowadays

now; and after a while, eventually, finally just now

I. azhigwa: jibwaa-maadamandam


Sun circles our bodies on his way

to kiss Moon—we eat fresh pickerel,

brook trout, wide mouth bass—gorge

on each-others’ body heat


fast for ode-imin—pump fire

in the water of our veins

are warned about you


do not listen



toboggan towards

snow covered



II. noongom: megwaa’giiwanimotaw wa’awe


     I want to scissor   you   out                   of my history

     but I am ensorcelled by the                   beaver pelt

     velour of our ancestors’ agree               ments inde’

     wiisagendam gide’ wiisagenda             mi mawi’ode

     aki wiisagishin into a state of               remembering







                    gich                                            niigaani-

                  igami                                         gichigami




III. bijiinag: noojimo’iwewin


          we weave our spirits back


                   cluster of berries minjimendan











                                                                                        around gnathic grief

                                                                                        there is no water left

                                                                                        to drink