Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Passaconaway, the Once and Future Powow

While doing some random searching on Google last night, I came across an interesting article on SeacoastNH concerning (this is also a good one) Passaconaway (whom David Stewart-Smith calls the “King Arthur of New England”), the great Indian sachem of the Pennacook Indians, the great confederation of tribes that lived along the Merrimack River: “The remains of 17th century Indian Sagamon Passaconaway may be buried, not in his native New Hampshire soil, but among the archaeological collections of a European museum.” Or not.

One of my favorite poems of my own, rejected by at least four journals, concerns the great Passaconaway. So I’ll post it here (as grapez goes into summer reruns, although this poem was never posted on this blog.)

Passaconaway's Last Laugh

He hews and joins a sleigh from great white pines
that thrived in Winnesquam's deep wilderness.
Twenty wolves spring forth in tandem lines,
rising in mists above a bottomless
lagoon (unfrozen still despite the cold).
He reins them to his sled with ropes of gold,

then calls out in his native Pennacook,
and off he journeys through old hunting grounds.
Each sylvan intervale and silver brook,
all rush and redolence, all visions, sounds,
no longer raise a sacred universe
but cultivate desire, the white man's curse.

He climbs a ridgeline pass to snowy peaks,
the spirit dwelling, land of crystal smoke
and opalescence, where the Trickster speaks
with spark and wisecrack one consoling joke:
Wasichu’s appetite is unsurpassed;
he’ll eat his hat and shirt, then end bare-assed.

~Greg Perry 2003-2005


abeth said...


Anonymous said...

I love that poem, especially--

"all visions, sounds,
no longer raise a sacred universe
but cultivate desire, the white man's curse."

So true, and so sad.

aum dada said...

abet, barbara

it does mean a lot to hear some positive feedback when all this one received was rejection. the poem thanks you.