And so it is

Began the day with an hour and a half paddle from Anuenue in Waikiki to Keeihi Lagoon. The surf was up. We paddled beyond the break and then over. Beautiful. Could see the bottom most of the way over. When I first paddled out from Anuenue seven years ago the water was clear and blue. This morning as we launched the canoe it was filthy. Sad. And no turtles. When I first went out we'd see several. The last few times I've paddled out in this direction haven't seen any. Did see tourist boats, plenty of surfers.

The regatta season training has started so we're paddling every chance we get. And hitting the gym. Makes a good contrast with writing, practicing and doing business in my room up here on the hill. A little balance.
It's late. Just returned from hearing LeAnne Howe read from The Shell Shaker and her new book, Evidence of Red at UH at the Center for Hawaiian Studies. Nice to have another Mvskoke person in the neighborhood, though the Choctaws and Creeks are old enemies. The thing about enemies is that they can become very familiar. You start to know them as well as you know your close beloved relatives. If you didn't care you wouldn't think about them at all. I think that's how it works. With the calamity of colonization we became allies.

All through the reading I kept hearing frogs. After went out behind the halau to the lo'i where the frogs were chanting in the waning moonlight:

The songs of frogs are compelling. They live between earth and water, are transformational figures. Come and I will show you how to move between here and there, out of your mind.

Tonight, behind the halau in the waning moon you were calling me. Being human was no longer as compelling as the lush, singing world.

The sound of making love are the same as giving birth and sometimes dying. All cries of longing.

And so it is.



April 25, 2005 Honolulu Tuesday

A blessing rain awakens me in the dark before dawn. I lift into the spirit
Of rain. It’s like the sweet urgency of sex with a beloved, this rain.
We are home I tell my spirit who has momentarily become the rain.
We are home my arms tell my beloved who rolls close sweetly to seal the absence.
Yesterday I traveled in the sky, over houses, businesses and churches,
Over cornfields. And over rolling hills of brush, trees and rivers
And through the principalities of birds, animals and various elemental kingdoms.
And above snowy mountains and wide palms of desert. I flew over my mother’s house,
my sisters’ and my brothers’ houses. And over my daughter’s house. I flew over babyhood, childhood and the wilderness of bad decisions. The last hours of the flight were through an eternity of blue to make it home to this island.
This morning I woke and I know where I am.
Yesterday I stumbled up in a grand old hotel room in Des Moines at four a.m.. A few days before I arose to greet the dawn in Evansville, Indiana in a hotel out
on an American strip of junk food.
Before that it was a b and b in Albuquerque where I lay for two days crashing from exhaustion. Sunrise came to me then in a poem and I was renewed when I went out
into the crisp dawn.
Before Albuquerque was Mesilla, New Mexico and I woke in the room thinking I was at my cousin’s duplex in West Hollywood and then I dove back under and found myself in that desert motel under refrains of doves and other birds and clouds of family.
Before Mesilla it was a rundown hotel in the middle of Berkeley during a cold snap. The ridged back heaters threw off a little heat around their middles. I froze. I was in and out of that place in a snap.
And before that it was my cousin’s in West Hollywood. That house knows it will be torn down in the next few years, knows that everything is changing and its spirit heaves
with the knowledge. I landed there from L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in D.C. from smack in the middle of a testing field. The cherry blossoms were perfectly aroused.
I was given refuge before that at my cousin’s in my home in West Hollywood. It was perfectly spring. Spirits congregate in that house.
And before that in a motel in Newark, Ohio where I saw a groundhog chewing breakfast at the side of the road as I was driven from the hotel to my first class at Denison University.
And before that I left this island for this journey. I knew it would be a long one and walked the yard and the house, gathering what I needed along the way.
I return rich with stories, with new friends, with renewal of friendships, with disappointments, with accomplishments, with a resolve to keep moving beautifully no matter where I am. On this trip more than any other I realize how much assistance I am given to make it through this world. I see the faces of everyone who has picked me up from the airport, returned me, carried my bags, cooked meals, greeted me, shared stories, poems, songs. We have laughed and cried together. Sat silently together. Walked the grounds of old Mississippian Mounds in late afternoon. Talked the stuff of poetry: which is more about heartbreak, survival, loss, and self-deprecation than it is about who’s who or the mechanics of poetry. Yesterday morning stood in the dark in Des Moines with two poets I had met along the way. Our small knot of beingness was a prayer for poetry. We traveled off to our different directions. I turn back to acknowledge all this. I look forward into the dawn.
Green, broad leaves of plants are sprinkled freshly from the light rain. Plumeria blossoms are bright with love. The sun is rising above Ko’o’laus. I am home.



Oh sunrise, as you enter the houses, minds and fields of everyone on this hemisphere, find me here.

I have been crashing for days or has it been years beyond the medicine of eagles.

Find me beneath the shadow of this yearning mountain, hovering near newborn roots planted for nourishment.

I made myself sick with sour longings, the poison of enemies and the jangling of fears against my thigh I carried for protection.

My spirit rises up in the dark because it hears the sound of doves in cottonwoods calling forth the sun, and sees the play of light starting over boulders of tears.

I struggled with a monster and lost. My body was tossed in the pile of kill around his terrible feet. I rotted there with the rest.

I was ashamed and told myself for a thousand years or more that I did not deserve anything but this.

But one day in relentless eternity my spirit discerned the precise movement of prayers carried toward the sun.

And this morning I am able to stand and cry with all the other beings who welcome you here.

I begin to move with the lightness of your being.
And I will go in the direction for which there is a place for me.

c Joy Harjo 4/20/05 Albuqueque


Report from the Desert, or Celebration is Contagious

I keep thinking of the amazing audience last night. A warm sold-out crowd at the Border Book Festival welcomed Sherwin Bitsui and me in the Mesilla Community Center. So much history packed there. My first book “the last song” published in Las Cruces. And now I’m in effect introducing Sherwin as I was so many years ago. So many fine poets and mentors, like Joe Somoza and Keith Wilson. There is no poetry, no music and no performance without the audience. The audience is an inherent part of the process. (We might write poetry or music “for ourselves” or “of ourselves” but what does that actually mean? What is the self? Is it a spirit occupying a body, a community? The physical shell animated by the spirit? Is it a cascade of many or multi-selves dazzling us from eternity?) I listened backstage as Sherwin took the stage. I’d done my sound check (great soundman, Kenny—absolutely matters), shaved an extra reed, warmed up my voice and horn, lined up the selections, then took the audience, mc and performers into my heart. That is, I recognized that we are in a ceremony of meaning together in that particular place and time. Meanwhile my nose was running with exhaustion overload. I didn’t know where the energy, the inspiration would come from, or how, but I’ve learned to trust it, communicate with it and remain in awe of it. And it arrived just in time… Each audience makes a unique soul. This one was electric. We all recognized each other; then flew. In the middle after I read the poem for rain, the rain came down, with a riot of thunder. There is no elixir like the smell of the desert drinking rain. In the end, there was singing, horn playing, poetry and we all round danced.

This contrasts with an audience back east last week (not NMAI). I could have been a huge spider on stage. There was no visible joint response from the audience though I saw a few lights here and there. Nothing seemed to work at all, though I performed well. Yet, how can I say that if I didn’t “get” the audience? Or they didn’t “get” me?

I will let it all go now. And get some sleep. And remember, science is a religion.


On the Road, Washington DC

Beautiful morning. Cherry blossoms in bloom. According to the river it is calm, receptive day. The clock on my computer reads 3:23AM, Honolulu time. Here it's six hours later. My spirit is somewhere inbetween. I put my lower mind to work holding open the door for inspiration and then what happens? The maid knocks and on the door and forces her way in, next the guy who wants to check the minibar that I haven't opened. I can’t think about time. It’s a construction for the lower mind. For the higher mind there’s eternity.

Why is virtue so difficult to cultivate? And why does vice grow and over take even if the seeds are merely tossed on concrete?
It appears more difficult to be disciplined and train my mind in the direction of brilliance and accomplishment and compassion than to read People Magazine and other such ilk all the way across the country on a packed plane. I just have to get back on it, and this morning is it:

--Free write, then write towards perfection and knowing
--Workout in the fitness room
--Practice sax and find a couple of more reeds.
--Catch up on expense log
--Write up schedule for time here. And put on PDA. Today I'm picked up by Howard Bass for a tour of the NMAI, then perform tonight and discussion with Suzan Harjo.

This morning the news is the Death of the Pope. The larger question is, who are the contenders for this powerful position, as whoever it is will wield incredible power throughout the world. Please, a compassionate human being. The likelihood? Is it possible for a compassionate human being to come to power in a time of noxious and nasty currents of police state and war mentality? It’s possible, not likely. Is a time like this prone to run itself out until we are all destroyed or mowed down, give in to the momentum? Or is this the culminating point of years of such a force? And what does this mean at the Mvskoke tribal level?

Thinking of how someone has given their company an imagined Indian moniker. Would be like me calling my company the Kabbalah, or Kwanza-something something like that and talking about how much I love and respect the particular group of people--hence the naming. Well, maybe they were Indian in their last life, or want to be in this one...But I don't think they would really want to be Indian, to live as an Indian person in this land. It's easy to admire an image from a distance, but the packaged image of Indian has nothing to do with us as human beings, nothing at all. Personally, this morning I'm over it. Too much jealousy, infighting, shame, fury--but once we settle down and remember who we really are--before the knife of "civilization" then the gift is amazing. But like any gift, it takes sacrifice, tending and songs.

Now, why do people get away with this false naming? It has to do with how Indians are still viewed in this country. Our dreams, our minds, our history or how they are imagined to be are being colonized.

And is it possible to walk outside that construct, outside linear time and being, outside these expectations? If you do you may walk alone for a long time.

So it is.

So, quit complaining.