A Rose, Patricia Grace, Opening Lines and Swinging

A Rose, from a market in Stuttgart. c JHarjo

No. I haven't posted in awhile. My life continues, made of a weave of travel, landings, unwindings, inspirations, dead lack-of-inspiration (rare), exhaustion, caffeine buzz and stories. I have been reading the Maori writer Patricia Grace, in the middle of her novel Potiki. What I am learning from her is the grace of story. She writes the reader into the story. We are part of the family, and indeed we are, for the storyteller makes a circle of participation. We are in the midst of ancestors; we ARE the ancestors. They are animated, and so are we, by memory and how it is evoked in story and song. We ARE memory. And memory is not linear, nor can it be bought and sold. Mvto Patricia Grace.

Here's an opening of one of my new stories (and I promised students in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago I'd post How To Get to the Planet Venus. I haven't forgetten. Just moving between scanners.)

"One two three four five six seven eight. It’s two or three, now it’s four or five. That’s how I counted myself through the dark after my father left, when we got a new one who didn’t want us. I used to stay awake until I heard my mother’s alarm. She’d get up, flush the toilet, and turn on the radio while washing and dressing for work. Then I could relax and sleep hard until school…is why, I told Odie I counted under my breath. Odie spat. She would have left the mess. Odie’s edgy; she’s ready to climb out the window and head for town. We’re shot with speed from weight loss pills, though we’re both skin bones. We’re higher than the moon. My heart is a freight train. We listen for the night matron who makes periodic sweeps through the dorm halls. We see the detective poke of her flashlight under the door as shines it up the hall, as she opens each room, making a count. Mrs. Perez is terrified of ghosts. This place is choke with little Indian girls who died of grief. They still haven’t found their way home. I’d jump Perez and have fun, but she’d shine that flashlight in my dilated eyes, and that would be it. I’d have to run."

Shiwi and her Brothers Swing c JHarjo 2007

Here is a place I touched down and found peace, one dusk in Albuquerque.


The GOODLUCK CAT in Oklahoma!!!!

'Students at Sequoyah Elementary school in Tulsa, Ok. Enjoy their signed
copies of Good Luck Cat made possible by the Charles W. and Pauline K.
Flint Foundation, Joy Harjo and the Tulsa City County Library. '

Joy Harjo Collection of Fine Literature and Media Arts

Joy Harjo generously donated many wonderful books and music CDs to your IAIA Library. For a list of items click here.

The Collection is currently on display in the Library. Come by and check-out something for your reading or listening joy.


Joy Harjo and the Arrow Dynamics Band at NMAI Tomorrow!

3 P.M. Saturday, April 21, 2007
Elmer and Mary Louise Rasmuson Theater
National Museum of the American Indian
Smithsonian Institution

Joy Harjo, sax and vocals
Larry Mitchell, guitar
Howard Cloud, bass
Steven Alvarez, drums

And special guest, David Lopez, flute



This Explains Why I Get Rounds of Certain Kinds of Emails BEWARE

From Snopes.com

To whom it concerns:

A word to the wise. E-mail petitions are NOT acceptable to Congress or any other municipality. To be acceptable petitions must have signed signatures and your full address. Same with "prayer chains" -be wary.

Almost all e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the Guinness Book of Records for the most cards All it was, and all this type of e-mail is, is to get names and "cookies" tracking info for tele-marketers and spammers to validate active e-mail accounts for their own purposes.

Any time you see an e-mail that says forwar d this on to "10" of your friends, sign this petition, or you'll get good luck, or whatever, it has either an ! e-mail tracker program attached that tracks the cookies and e-mails of those folks you forward to, or the host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of "active" e-mails to use in spam e-mails, or sell to others that do.

Please forward this notice to others and you will be providing a good service to your friends, and will be rewarded by not getting 30,000 spam e-mails in the future.

(If you have been sending out the above kinds of email, now you know why you get so much spam!)

Check it out: http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/petition/internet.htm


Kurt Vonnegut, a real human being

c Photo Joy Harjo 2007

"The only proof I needed for the existence of God was music."
Kurt Vonnegut November 11, 1922-April 10, 2007

I met Vonnegut when I was a graduate student at the University of Iowa, after he read to a packed auditorium, at the workshop post-reading party. Many of those post-reading parties were rife with shameless hustles by students and visiting writers for attention and publishing opportunities. Most of us went for the food and drink. We were hungry graduate students. I remember Vonnegut at the edge of the humming crowd, unmoved by adoration. He recognized the game. He was unpretentious. He came over and talked to me. He apologized for the way the people in this country treated Indians. Despite the images of violence that haunted him, Vonnegut remained in awe of creation. He was a real human being. We will miss him here.




Today is Easter, a Christian holiday, which marks the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think of Jesus as a beloved medicine man and healer, and believe he would be offended at how the teachings he carried into this world are being manipulated. In church I heard more about the devil and how women should be obedient to men, than I ever heard about this healer who could make miracles and raise the dead. There are still medicine people who can raise the dead. I’ve heard their stories.

Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This marks the beginning of spring, of planting season, of birth. It’s a transformational point, a balance point. Day and night are equal.

In Paris last week both the Sun and Moon were in my hotel room. Sunrise came in at one angle, and at night the full Moon stared in from the other angle. The last few nights in Albuquerque, an alert Moon has awakened me. I remembered similar nights in childhood, and how I climbed up moonlight to the Moon and other places.

A few days ago here in Albuquerque it was snowing white flower petals from apple trees. It was seventy-five degrees. Yesterday it was snowing cold and ice. Strange weather.

I’d seen a sign announcing an Easter egg hunt at the post boxes and figured it was a compound sponsored event. It wasn’t. A neighbor who loved Easter made doughnuts, coffee and tea, colored and hid eggs, some with prizes. My grandchildren were five of seven children, won two grand prizes and had a good time searching for eggs. So thank you Sarah in #15. I’m still blown away by her beneficence.

Tonight I am churned up because I see family members in danger. They are attracted to an encampment run by an enchanted spirit. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He is so smart he believes that he has outsmarted the alcohol spirit. There are many different kinds of smart. It’s fun there, with plenty of food, laughter, drink and smoke. The enchanted spirit knows many good stories and tells them like doses of medicine, to lure them in. I warned them that there’s the person we know, and there’s the enchanted one who took root in a hole made by alcohol. The one we know is not in control. We miss him. I watch them return again tonight, and I am concerned for them. The enchanted one is lonely and wants company down that terrible road.

This is excerpted from an email, a report from a friend who was shooting a program on Maui: “…Just had a great meeting w/ a beautiful man who surfs 60 foot waves and swims with sharks. For him it's all spiritual.”

It is all spiritual.


After Germany, After Paris

I know the fear path. It is false. It isn't true. What is true is the ultimate compassion of the one who created us in beauty. It's all about perspective. It's about getting the perspective of the Moon. You’re so far out you can see the Earth as a person. Or so far in you can truly see yourself, and see yourself as the Earth.