The Apostrophe Blog
My poem, “Gift Event for Our New Gilded Age” appeared in the Celebration Issue of Raven Chronicles, A Journal of Art, Literature & The Spoken Word, Vol. 22, Spring/Summer 2016.
The Raven Chronicles Press is a nonprofit independent publishing press and literary organization, established in Seattle in 1991. According to their website they “strive to publish and showcase work that embodies the cultural diversity of writers and artists; work that expresses family and forebears; work that connects with the soil, water, and air of place and home. To this end, Raven Chronicles Press will publish the work of traditional storytellers, along with experimental work in emerging forms of art and literature.”
“Gift Event for Our New Gilded Age” is based on a poem from the Kwakiutl called “Gift Event” that I found in Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe & Oceania The Kwakiutl—along with other North American Indian peoples of the northwest coast—were well known for the potlatch, an opulent ceremonial feast at which possessions are given away or destroyed to display wealth or enhance prestige. I wrote this the year that a certain quadruply-indicted former president began his seemingly impossible run for the nation’s highest office.
Gift Event for Our New Gilded Age
after the Kwakiutl Indian “Gift Event”
Start by giving away afternoons hell-bent to win.
Have everyone give everyone else a tell-it-slant tattoo.
Give away deviled eggs and devil-may-care and the slap/dashing vigor of just say yes.
Give away a shore of graft and a grip of swank.
Give away pocket constitutions, vice rings, rapture and the Crayola color flesh.
Give away plums and surrender and veils, or pretend to do so.
Pretend to be a flask of terrorized grace.
Have the ladies pretend to be boom, have the lords pretend to be
Talk austerity or nothing.
Make a narrow place at the entrance of each house and put a line at
the end of it that all have to stoop under to get in.
Hang the line with all sorts of switchblades and sickles to make a friendly clink.
Give away loaded guns while saying things like “Here is this loaded
gun worth zilch and this one worth zip.”
Give everyone a new flame.
Give that flame to a dead child or think of nothing and go and get