Poems for Earth Day: “The earth of my blood”: O’Connor, Ben the Dancer, La Fortune

ZP_Mother Earth_stonecut from 1961 by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013)

ZP_Mother Earth_stonecut from 1961 by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013)

Lawrence William O’Connor (Winnebago poet)

“O Mother Earth”


Never will I plough the earth.

I would be ripping open the breast of my mother.


Never will I foul the rivers.

I would be poisoning the veins of my mother.


Never will I cut down the trees.

I would be breaking off the arms of my mother.


Never will I pollute the air.

I would be contaminating the breath of my mother.


Never will I strip-mine the land.

I would be tearing off her clothes, leaving her naked.


Never will I kill the wild animals for no reason.

I would be murdering her children, my own brothers and sisters.


Never will I disrespect the earth in anyway.

Always will I walk in beauty upon the earth my mother,

Under the sky my father,

In the warmth of the sun my sister,

Through the glow of the moon my brother.

.     .     .

Ben the Dancer (Yankton Lakota-Sioux, Rosebud (Sicangu), South Dakota)

“My Rug Maker Fine”


slowly as I laid my head

upon his chest

the rain outside beckoned

for me to kiss him

we forgot the names that were called

and as I looked into his deep brown eyes

I saw the earth of his people

the earth of his blood

and the earth of his birth

looking at me


there was much to be said

on that rainy night

but talking came secondary

and not much was said

some names were meant to scald

they can break steadfast ties

then I heard the earth of his people

the earth of his blood

and the earth of his birth

telling me


he left on that rainy night

without a kiss

he went home forever

the rain beckoned at him to go

the earth of his people told me

he was going home

the earth of his blood called him

to come home

and the earth of his birth took him

from me


oh how my heart went on a dizzy flight

I will him miss

knowing this was going to sever

our hearts and leave a hole

I know the drum of his people

that called him home

I feel the pulse of his blood

that drew him there

I smell the scent of his birth

that made me let him go


I have endured the name

the scalding brand

I stand on my own feet now

the earth of my people

the earth of my blood

and the earth of my birth

told me to let you go

I listened

I know now

and we are free.

.     .     .

Richard La Fortune/Anguksuar (Yupik Eskimo, born 1960, Bethel, Kuskokvagmiut, Alaska)


I have picked a bouquet for you:

I picked the sky,

I picked the wind,

I picked the prairies with their waving grasses,

I picked the woods, the rivers, brooks and lakes,

I picked the deer, the wildcat, the birds and small animals.

I picked the rain – I know you love the rain,

I picked the summer stars,

I picked the sunshine and the moonlight,

I picked the mountains and the oceans with their mighty waters.

I know it’s a big bouquet, but open your arms wide;

    you can hold all of it and more besides.


Your mind and your love will

    let you hold all of this creation.

.     .     .     .     .

All poems © each poet:  Lawrence William O’Connor, Ben the Dancer, Richard La Fortune

Selections are from a compilation of “Gay American Indian” (including Lesbian and Two-Spirits) poetry, short stories and essays –  Living the Spirit – published in 1988.