While Looking For Cows and The Sunday Whirl

09 Sep

YES! I finally have a poem. I have missed wordling. I almost got caught by cows, this time. Can’t wait to see how everyone else uses that word.

[Shows As He Goes, half-length portrait] (LOC)

[Shows As He Goes, half-length portrait] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

While Looking For Cows to Photograph

Day in and day out, Curtis photographed Plains Indians
— their fierce grace, their remote splendour — unshaken
by the foreign eye trained on them. Here, in their faces,
the lens recorded a marble ruggedness alongside pride,
a sure knowledge of place in their world alongside
a growing doubt. They posed for him in front of simple
backdrops, these warriors of the open lands — who took
their blessings from the Earth and Air — and later looked
upon their images as if at strangers, in silence.

Process: I did my usual pairing of words I thought might work together, but it was warriors that sent me in the direction of Plains Indians, a particular study of mine. I paid attention to the words that end the lines, even more than usual, wanting them to say much of the poem. I used the dashes to separate what amount to asides.

Edward S. Curtis is known for his photographs of American Indians. I don’t usually include a photograph, but thought one might look nice, so went hunting after I finished the poem.Β  He fit.



Posted by on 09/09/2012 in exercises, poetry, writing


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48 responses to “While Looking For Cows and The Sunday Whirl

  1. brenda w

    09/09/2012 at 9:44 am

    You did the words proud, Margo. Thank you for shedding light on the Plains Indians. The last line ends the piece perfectly. I can see them looking at the images of themselves, at a time when their culture was vanishing. Or even later….looking at it with today’s eyes.

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:32 pm

      Thank you, Brenda. it is so good to be back.

  2. Daydreamertoo

    09/09/2012 at 10:12 am

    Yes, you did the worlde words proud. Loved every word in this. They were so badly mistreated by the white man who took their lands for their own, when in truth, the Native would have shared if they had known they would have lost them entirely.
    Such a strong and valid point in such a concise poem too. A beautiful, sad, powerful read.

  3. Laurie Kolp

    09/09/2012 at 10:38 am

    I love where the words took you… especially “marble ruggedness”

    Here’s mine:

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:33 pm

      Thank you, Laurie. Yours had a lot of power.

  4. vivinfrance

    09/09/2012 at 11:18 am

    The lineation is tight, the dashes have precisely the effect you planned, this is a triumphant return to wordling, Margo.

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:33 pm

      I greatly appreciate your comments, ViV.

  5. JulesPaige

    09/09/2012 at 12:24 pm

    Enchanted. I think that is another word those Native Peoples would have thought when they saw themselves flat on a piece of paper. It is interesting how the camera has become almost second nature to everyone.

    Thanks for your visit to:
    And for your continued encouragement and aide in helping me to write better. πŸ™‚

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:34 pm

      Thank you, Jules. I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life!

  6. Marianne

    09/09/2012 at 12:26 pm

    This is beautiful, Margo! A fitting use of warrior.

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:34 pm

      Thank you, Marianne. It’s a word I immediately associate with these particular Indians.

  7. whimsygizmo

    09/09/2012 at 12:41 pm

    Beautiful, Margo. A gorgeous tribute.

  8. val dering rojas

    09/09/2012 at 1:34 pm

    Beautiful poem. Excellent use of the words. Bravo.

    Glad you are writing again! πŸ™‚

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:35 pm

      Thank you, Val.

      So am I πŸ˜‰

  9. anl4

    09/09/2012 at 2:46 pm

    A truely beautiful piece!!

  10. 1sojournal

    09/09/2012 at 3:03 pm

    My personal history fuels my own fascination for the story you tell and the photographs that Curtis took. Your last line is perfect. I always see a deep deep well of sadness in these faces that possibly understood that this might be the only remembrance of a proud people and cultural heritage. Ghost warriors living only on thin sheets of paper,


    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:39 pm

      ‘Ghost warriors living only on thin sheets of paper’ — how beautiful an image, Elizabeth. The Plains Indians have held me in thrall from the moment I read a letter [the original which I was holding in my hand after pulling it out of a file] from the doctor at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, written 1870, where he describes the haircuts of two Indians he saw. I had never thought of distinctive hairstyles before that. Now I’m a scholar in that area!


  11. nan

    09/09/2012 at 3:37 pm

    Your description of the Plains Indian… along with the great photo — marvelous!
    I especially liked your pairing of words in this line:
    their fierce grace, their remote splendour β€” unshaken
    (I liked the enjambment!)

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:40 pm

      Thank you, Nan. I do love playing with enjambment!

  12. Brenda Bishop Blakey

    09/09/2012 at 4:12 pm

    Thank you for demonstrating just how well a wordle can be wordled. There is so much to enjoy.

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 5:46 pm

      Brenda, thank you for the lovely compliment.

  13. Annette Mickelson

    09/09/2012 at 7:16 pm

    I’m glad you are back wordling with us! I like the strength of the closing image of them looking at the photos in silence. So telling.

    • margo roby

      09/09/2012 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you, Annette. It’s good to be back with you all.

  14. Tumblewords

    09/09/2012 at 9:07 pm

    A wonderful write! It says far more than the few words!

  15. markwindham

    09/09/2012 at 9:13 pm

    good good, like the end bit, first time seeing their own image outside of a reflection in water. Cows in the title…possibly cheatin’ πŸ™‚ and i say this because that was my first idea.

    • margo roby

      10/09/2012 at 7:58 am

      Exactly, Mark. Thank you for getting that. Usually I would agree with you about the word in the title [which I do often with a difficult word], but I think this was such a clever save!

      • markwindham

        10/09/2012 at 9:36 am

        Actually I am good with the word in the title (especially if cleverly done), have done it more than once myself, and it really is where it was going to go if I had stuck with my first idea.

        • margo roby

          10/09/2012 at 9:55 am

          Good heavens! I just reread my remark. Clearly I don’t do tone well at seven in the morning. You did know I was bantering, yes? Except for the getting the last line bit; I really do appreciate that πŸ™‚ I’m glad you didn’t go with your first idea, if only because we might not have gotten the poem you did write.

  16. seingraham

    09/09/2012 at 9:49 pm

    I don’t consider using a word in the title “cheating” esp in cases such as this … but that’s just me. I loved this margo – you’ve captured the proud native in a few simple lines without getting smarmy and still puttting it well – nicely done.

    • margo roby

      10/09/2012 at 7:59 am

      Thank you, Sharon. I knew it was a dicey topic and wanted to not be cliche.

  17. Irene

    10/09/2012 at 8:08 am

    Love how the title tilts the piece in an offbeat way. Wonderful idea of a poem, and the use of the words here to describe ” their fierce grace, their remote splendour”.

    • margo roby

      10/09/2012 at 8:19 am

      Thank you, Irene. I wanted those phrases, but dithered over possible cliche. However those phrases still describe the appearance of the warriors. I’m still chuckling over the title.

      • Irene

        10/09/2012 at 8:26 am

        Yes I think it’s delightful! I need a chuckle myself.

        • margo roby

          10/09/2012 at 8:53 am

          Am happy to oblige. Life not playing nice? Remember to give yourself a treat.

  18. Misky

    10/09/2012 at 12:18 pm

    All very nicely tied into that gorgeous photo. Nice piece of work, Margo.

    • margo roby

      10/09/2012 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks, Misky, although the photo came after, so I guess it ties into the poem :-)!

  19. PJF Sayers

    10/09/2012 at 12:32 pm

    Fantastic return to wordling with this piece, Margo. Have you ever seen “The West” by Ken Burns? You reminded me of that documentary with this. I am late reading whirls, it was a big NFL day at the Sayers/Barnett household yesterday.

    A great Monday to you!

    • margo roby

      10/09/2012 at 2:39 pm

      You footballers have a busy few months upcoming. Thank goodness I do golf! Thank you for the compliment. I know of Ken Burns’ work but haven’t gotten around to watching . My interest is so narrow that I know he won’t cover it. Maybe someday [you know, when we all have lots of time ;-)]


      • PJF Sayers

        10/09/2012 at 5:23 pm

        Oh, I am not the football fan, but my husband is and so are his friends. I don’t pay attention to football until the Superbowl. πŸ™‚ I haven’t been golfing in years. I used to have wonderful fun golfing.

        • margo roby

          10/09/2012 at 5:29 pm

          Golfers think I’m strange [well, I probably am :-)]. I have never played, but I adore watching. Go figure.


  20. Cheryl's Excellent Adventure

    10/09/2012 at 8:51 pm

    Great wordle Margo. Just so you know…when I clicked on your name in my email notification of your blog comment, I went to your old blog on blogspot. It does not have a link to come here in your profile.

    • margo roby

      11/09/2012 at 9:45 am

      Thank you, Cheryl. I’ll try and get that figured out today.

  21. Cathy

    10/09/2012 at 10:14 pm

    Love dignity in the poem. I’m sure where shock when they saw their face in the picture.

    • margo roby

      11/09/2012 at 9:47 am

      Thank you, Cathy. It makes you wonder, doesn’t it, when they had probably only seen themselves reflected in water [although some will have seen mirrors at this point].


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