Oracle of the Susquehanna


Poem Commentary

Sound familiar? THis was posted several months ago. I removed it and edited it. This is the edited version.

Oracle of the Susquehanna



From the chanting of the ancients 

Just outside our smokey lodge, an oracle:

(I was but four and heard in low and stolen snatches,

Still sucking soft those tattoo’d breasts)

How the ancient river flowing

Past our lodge all smudged with hearth fire

Past the neighbors’ hanging otters

Past their shad in salty oak slats

Past the days of sticky mud flats

When the birds of spirit woodland,

Asked the thrushes of the woodland,

Would they sing our tribal song?


Then great oracle of Iriquois- the shaman of our people

Wearing feathers stained dark purple

With owl’s talon at his throat

Would chant out with the ancients

The epic of our people

How the mighty Iriquois, would take up woven nets

Catching firey dances in the moon of melting snow

So that the eyes of Susquehanna,

Our mighty flowing mother,

Would once again take notice

Of the hunger of our people,

And bring the silver schooling fishes

Great silver schooling fishes.


Then when the shad piles gathered

And our gardens were well-watered

The oracle of Susquehanna

Could laugh at blushing maidens

Could mock the blunt-tipped arrowheads 

Of boys dying to be braves

Life flowed on her rushing muddy current

And contentment seeped out nightly

From her thick white foggy cloak.

And the thrushes of the woodland dew

Learned our story all by heart

And would sing our tribal song.


Since white men dammed our fountain

Stealing current from its currents

Killing off our spawning fishes-

No silver schools of fishes.

Rain brings no restoration

But instead, new infestation

Of a plague on Susquehanna

And the oracle no longer laughs

His tears- swept seaward on its currents

Falling past the turbined Conowingo

Pooling in the turbid Chesepeake,

Bay of bitter-sweet salt waters.


But the thrushes of the spirit wood

Still sound the Susquehanna’s song

(Now a requiem for lost little folk)

With plaintive Karaoke every summer’s warm

When fireflies halt their mating lights,

And katydid’s greenleaf percussion band

Sets the back beat to the chorus;

Then the thrushes of Cecil’s spirit wood

Sing each afternoon till evening

All that’s lost now to the riverfolk,

All sweet mysteries unspoken

All that the oracle never chanted.

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ginga commented on Oracle of the Susquehanna


Harver, This is a creative and remarkable poem that I enjoyedvery much and the rhythm reminds me so much of the poem "on the shores of Gicheegoomee..."(sp) anyhow this is splendid. ginga

gmcookie commented on Oracle of the Susquehanna


Harver, This reminds me so much of the "Song of Hiawatha", a poem I loved so very much as a child that I memorized it and still find it drifting through my consciousness at times. This work has that same haunting beauty and sense of loss. It holds the same sense of respect. It is a very moving piece my friend.



thank you for your read and your comment. I very much appreciate your attention and courtesies.

SavVySam commented on Oracle of the Susquehanna


What a beautiful historical tribute to an incredible people. Very interesting as well.

BraveMoon commented on Oracle of the Susquehanna


this is an honor to the grandsires of the Tsalagi Harv, an honor to my people, an honor to OP and I am honored to know you as my friend, Wah'do Harv!

patricialouise commented on Oracle of the Susquehanna


You must be a student of American Indian History. Grate visual and deep emotion.

To have great poets there must be great audiences too.

Walt Whitman, American Poet (1819-1892)

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