Funky Elder

My Server has given me only 5 MB of webspace to share my bio and artist statement. As a result, I'm using these links as a hub. Much of my work has been inspired by the masina-wapikini-ganan (rock art paintings, petroglyphs and pictographs) and lately the wiigwaas-sabakoon (birch bark scrolls). The computer screen is a lot like our Anishinaabe traditional mnemonic techniques. Who said that we did not have a writing system? Watch for the Funky-Elder telling his stories when he gets his hands on the augmented reality (AR) technology coming his way! I'll be building miniature movie sets in my living room to let my Firebolt Ensemble play. Who knows? I may have a state-of-the-art movie and recording studio in the industrial park! I'm watching some serious talent out there.

My Poems

While I toured Dublin in the Emerald Isle, a vision came to me saying, 'Don't be afraid of your words! These words opened another wound, another peel of the onion skin. It was at the Indian Residential School that I learned to be ashamed of my Anishinaabe language and dialect. I was even made me afraid of the English language, afraid of writing short stories, afraid of writing poetry. I wasn't good enough to express myself in both languages. Since my return to Turtle Island, I have begun to honor the Dublin Vision. These are a few of my poems written for the spoken word.

TO AUNT EMILY
(1936-2015)

Oh! The night of my aunt be true
Sit I in my sorrow to weep
In the dark missing you,
Watching you sleep.

To awake in the arms
Of the Eternal Day
Breathing anew rearms
Your hands to pray.

Set fires to the oak.
Let my grief dissolve
In the rising smoke
With abiding resolve.

Minawa apii farewells did we trade
Since then I’ve raced
To gaze upon the makizinan you made
Babiichii no more I haste.

Go! With your wings unfurled
Upon the golden flowers
Of your new floral world
And powers.

Gagiichii not your shoes away
Yet, I can see you
Makizinikeh under the Eternal Day
— It’s… just… like… you!


GINIW GOLDEN EAGLE

A lone eagle shot upwards
Through a hole in the clouds.

“Disappear, don't you!”
Cried the homeless Drunk
Shaking his fists to
Defy how far he had sunk.

In the debris of rotting fruits,
The rats scurried, but came back
With new Recruits
In the pack.

The Drunk knew that
Even rats mourn their dead.
He heard wings pat
His shoulders and head.

He saw white buffaloes
Floating over skyscrapers and plough
With slithering shadows
Upon the checkered fields below.

“Now, we will live,
Aware of the powers unspeakable
And thrive!”
He said to Giniw Golden Eagle.

Two eagles shot upwards
Through a hole in the clouds.


WE ARE STILL HERE

Nidjaniss
Dangerous!

It's alright if we make
Arts and crafts.
It's not alright if we partake
When songend da mowin staffs
Self-determination.

The power of spirit
Manidoo wisi win
Steep in the gift
Too deep to keep in
A Reservation.

Nidjaniss
Dangerous!

Mother our blood and bone.
Gather to light
The sober wiing gashk koon
Sweet grass bright
With transformation.

Reconciliation then
Will see the first glint
Of bon nend da mowin
Fire and flint.

Life is sincere
On the Ojibwe camp and oh!
We are still here!
Awa’si aginz zo!