Nimbawaadaan Akiing / I Dream a World

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

atemagag biinaagami
of clean water

ancient trees

gaye gwekaanimad
and changing winds.

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

of ones who remember

nandagikenindamang gaye
who seek the truth and

maamwidebwe’endamang waabang
believe in tomorrow together.

Nimbawaadaan akiing
I dream a world

izhi-biimiskobideg giizhigong
where our path in the sky

waabandamang naasaab
can be seen as clearly as

gaa-izhi-niibawid wiijibemaadizid
the place where our neighbor once stood.

Gidiskinaadaa Mitigwaakiing/Woodland Liberty

Apii dibikong gaashkendamyaan miinawaa goshkoziyaan
When in the night I am weary and awake wondering
endigwenh waa ezhichigewag bagoji Anishinaabensag odenang,
what the wild young Anishinaabeg of the cities will do,
mitigwaakiing izhaayaan miinawaa anweshinyaan.
into the woods I go and rest.
Nimawadishaag zhingwaakwag miinawaa okikaandagoog
I visit with the white pines and the jack pines.
Nibizindaawaag zhashagiwag miinawaa ajiijaakwag.
I listen to the herons and the cranes.
Nimaatookinaag zaagaa’igan ogaawag miinawaa apakweshkwayag.
I share the lake waters with the walleye and the cattails.
Niwaabaandaanan wesiinhyag-miikanan miinawaa nakwejinaanig
I marvel at the complexity of wild paths and webs woven.
Miidash apii bidaaban niswi giosewag miinawaa
Then when the dawn hides the three hunters
niizhwaaswi nimisenhyag dibiki-giizhigong gaazhad
and seven sisters of the night sky
baabimoseyaan nikeye naawakweg zoongide’eyaan.
I walk bravely toward the noonday.

This poem was written in response to "The Peace of Wild Things" by Wendell Berry.

Cream City/Doodooshabo’enaande Oodena

They gathered to trade
where the stones were white
between midday and midnight
between the good earth and the great sea.

Foxes, feathers and fireflies to the north
fins, skunks and onions to the south
different echoes whispered
different memories made.

Workers and wanderers stealing days
forging dreams big as melting stars
sometimes fantastic
sometimes familiar.


Translated into English from Anishinaabemowin by the poet.


Doodooshabo’enaande Oodena

Gii maawanjidiwag ji-odaawewaad
endazhi waabshkaabikong
abitoo-ay’iing naakwek miinwaa aapta dibikad
abitoo-ay’iing minoakiing miinwaa chigaming.

Waagoshag, waawaateseg, miigwanag giwedinong aayaawaad
ginoozheyag, chigagoog, zhigangwishan zhawanong aayaawaad
babikaan bedowe dibaaswewewaad
babikaan miikwendamowaad.

Anokiijig, paandajig gizhigoon gimoodaanaawaan
ningaabikizaanaawaan bawaajigewinan ningaabii’anong
naningodinong maamakatch
naningodinong endaayang.

Ozaagi’aan One Open to an Other

Gizaagi’in apii zaagi’idizoyan
I love you when you love yourself

gaye gaawiin zaagi’idizosiiyan
and when you do not

apii zaagijiba’iweyang
when we escape together

gaye zaagijinizhikawangwaa
and when we chase together

wiindigoog wiindamoonangwaa
the demons who tell us

gaawiin zaagiginzinog ozaagiing
nothing sprouts at the inlet

aanawi gikendamang jiigi-zaaga’igan
when we know at the edge of the lake

gii-zaagida’aawangweyang ingoding
where ashes were poured

zaagaakominagaanzh zaagaagoneg
the bearberry stands in the snow

zaagidikwanaaging ezhi-nisidotamang
branches reaching and tracing

zaagijiwebinamang gaye ishkonamang
what we have tossed and what we have saved

as we examine

gizaagi’in, gizaagi miidash ozaagi’aan.

Related Poems


(after Stephen Hawking)

Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity
we once were?

so compact nobody
needed a bed, or food or money—

nobody hiding in the school bathroom
or home alone

pulling open the drawer
where the pills are kept.

For every atom belonging to me as good
Belongs to you.   Remember?
There was no   Nature.    No
 them.   No tests
to determine if the elephant
grieves her calf    or if

the coral reef feels pain.    Trashed
oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

would that we could wake up   to what we were
—when we were ocean    and before that
to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was
liquid and stars were space and space was not

at all—nothing

before we came to believe humans were so important
before this awful loneliness.

Can molecules recall it?
what once was?    before anything happened?

No I, no We, no one. No was
No verb      no noun
only a tiny tiny dot brimming with

is is is is is

All   everything   home

Complaint of El Río Grande

I was meant for all things to meet:
to make the clouds pause in the mirror
of my waters, to be home to fallen rain
that finds its way to me, to turn eons
of loveless rock into lovesick pebbles
and carry them as humble gifts back
to the sea which brings life back to me.

I felt the sun flare, praised each star
flocked about the moon long before
you did. I’ve breathed air you’ll never
breathe, listened to songbirds before
you could speak their names, before
you dug your oars in me, before you
created the gods that created you.

Then countries—your invention—maps
jigsawing the world into colored shapes
caged in bold lines to say: you’re here,
not there, you’re this, not that, to say:
yellow isn’t red, red isn’t black, black is
not white, to say: mine, not ours, to say
war, and believe life’s worth is relative.

You named me big river, drew me—blue,
thick to divide, to say: spic and Yankee,
to say: wetback and gringo. You split me
in two—half of me us, the rest them. But
I wasn’t meant to drown children, hear
mothers’ cries, never meant to be your
geography: a line, a border, a murderer.

I was meant for all things to meet:
the mirrored clouds and sun’s tingle,
birdsongs and the quiet moon, the wind
and its dust, the rush of mountain rain—
and us. Blood that runs in you is water
flowing in me, both life, the truth we
know we know: be one in one another.

Eagle Poem

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can't see, can't hear,
Can't know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren't always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion, 
Like eagle rounding out the morning
Inside us. 
We pray that it will be done
In beauty.
In beauty.