Duane Niatum

D
Duane Niatum
The Disappearance of the Duwamish Salmon
How long have they laid buried
in the sludge and grime of industry
erasing the river's breath

and almost erasing the Duwamish people
who once paddled their canoes down
its current swift as the wing of kingfisher?

Walking beside the river in 2009 you can
still hear the dreams and laughter
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Little Crow's Ear Nettled by the Slash-eyed Journey
I was born to a family wrapped
inside the wallpaper of two worlds,
drumming the other's disappearance.
My voice grew into an impulse of blood wars red and white.

Running between winter and spring
I awoke to a nightmare of spit and bile.
My grandfather said I must earn my tracks in the night.
The earth surged and oozed
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The Painter
for Charles Krafft As salmon awaken to the pulsing dawn,
he hears night heron farther down the Skagit River.

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Ghazal
Day and night he sees her skin glow at the window
yet in his dreams she's a shade of the window.

The band changes the tune so night won't sound too minor;
the church bell lies more than time at the window.

The president's speech falls on the people like rain.
The people sigh with belief he's their spine at the window.

What did we think we'd find on opening love's box,
a figure to adore or the shadow of a mime at the window?
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Snowy Owl Near Ocean Shores
A castaway blown south from the arctic tundra
sits on a stump in an abandoned farmer’s field.
Beyond the dunes cattails toss and bend as snappy
as the surf, rushing and crashing down the jetty.

His head a swivel of round glances,
his eyes a deeper yellow than the winter sun,
he wonders if the spot two hundred feet away
is a mouse on the crawl from mud hole
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Consulting an Elder Poet on an Anti-War Poem
(for Elizabeth Bishop) One day you said to me,
“there’s nothing you can do,”
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The Dice Changer
Raven steals your name for an autumn joke:
buries it along with you under the broadest hemlock
known to squirrel or chipmunk.
He croaks it’s too bad you were awake for the event.
He accuses you of boring him
with the same old questions over and over.
You attempt revolt to prove his rattle
is cracked and as brittle as his song.
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Love Poem
The twilight of your face,
the unknown bird in your voice,
drew me to your eyes’ green vision,

your song about a moment
that stood in the shadow
of a moon vulnerability,

a Natalie I saw standing alone,
at your friend Carolyn’s party
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46
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Mixed Media
I.

Stars among
corn fields
above fences
the crows
line like
darkness points,
spread over the earth
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28
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A Tribute to Chief Joseph (1840?-1904)
"God made me an Indian, but not a reservation Indian."—Sitting Bull Hin-Mah-Too-Yah-Lat-Ket: Thunder-rolling in-the-mountains,
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