Saturday, June 24, 2006

Janice Gould

Janice Gould is the former Hallie Ford Chair in Creative Writing at Willamette University. She has published several books of poetry and her work has been much anthologized. She is of Maidu/Konkow descent, is a recognized scholar of Native American poets, and has received an NEA Fellowship, a Roothbert Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship, as well as an Astraea Award.

The Day of the Dead

I wish it were like this:
el dia de los muertos comes
and we fill our baskets with bread,
apples, chicken, and beer,
and go out to the graveyard.

We bring flowers with significant colors-
yellow, crimson, and gold-
the strong hungry colors of life,
full of saliva and blood.

We sit on the sandy mounds
and I play my accordion.
It groans like the gates of hell.
The flames of the votives
flicker in the wind.

My music makes everything sway,
all the visible and invisible-
friends, candles, ants, the wind.
Because for me life ripens,
and for now it's on my side
thought it's true I am often afraid.

I wear my boots when I play the old squeeze-box,
and stomp hard rhythms
till the headstones dance on their graves.



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