Scajaquada v4
#1
Scajaquada 

sku-jæ-kwa-dä a word I’ve heard
since I could ride in the back
looking out the window
more than an expressway
that segregates and divides
more than a Buffalo name
whose pronunciation sets us apart
more than a creek
that drains and dumps
more than a street
that doubles as a headstone

buried for nearly a century
I found you almost alive in Forest Lawn
still flowing over 400 million year old dolomite
still carving Serenity Falls 
undisturbed only here
not channeled
not tunneled

two miles downstream
Philip Kenjockety lived creekside with his family
just southeast of the triangle
of delta, Black Rock, and island
sanctuary they said for birds and spirits 

by his Seneca name
ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“beyond the multitude”
Commodore Perry renamed the creek
famed panther hunter
the refugeed grandson
of the vanquished Kah-Kwahs
whose father led the conquering Seneca

the site of the family wigwams was later zoned “M-2”
General
Industrial
District
benzene, toluene, xylene, lead, cyanide, and PCB’s
soaked the soil, leached into the creek bed 
& settled in the flesh of wildlife

upstream human waste
is diverted further underground through the Delavan Drain
sourced through glacial deposits
re-energized from a subterranean lake
it’s still not enough

sitting on the bank below the falls, I lift defiled water in my hand
on most days, I’m grateful it doesn’t burn my eyes or lungs
I used to think you were a ditch, a sewer
flood-control for the mall that destroyed your wetlands
I didn’t know you were real
I thought you were runoff for
the inundation of subdivisions

restoration rather than resurrection
seems timid for the task
but what else is there?

pouring from my palm
water to live
water to forgive
water to heal




Scajaquada 


streaming from a poison culvert, it enters Forest Lawn
running through Olmsted’s sculpted ravine
undisturbed only here
not channeled
not tunneled
still flowing over 400 million year old dolomite
where it carved Serenity Falls

below in Moffett’s Grove
the last parcel to receive the dead
two sunbathers in appropriately black bikinis 
recline safely away from the leer of living men
with only male finches and cicadas within earshot

it’s here I discovered it
far from the headwaters
of its mitigated springs
more than a Buffalo word
whose pronunciation sets us apart
more than an expressway
that segregates and divides
more than a creek 
that drains and dumps
and more than a street
that doubles as a headstone
I found a watershed, a habitat, a home

two miles downstream
famed panther hunter
the refugeed grandson 
of the vanquished Kah-Kwahs
whose father led the conquering Seneca
Philip Kenjockety lived creekside with his family
just northeast of the trinity
delta, Black Rock, and island 
sanctuary they said for birds and spirits 

by his Seneca name 
ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“Beyond the Multitude”
Commodore Perry renamed the creek
more than 76 spelling with 76 stories
sgenjohgwa:dih,** “outside the crowd” I was corrected
with fewer than 50 native speakers still living
a defeated people’s history
Is open to interpretation

the site of the family wigwams was later zoned “M-2” 
General 
Industrial 
District
benzene, toluene, xylene, lead, cyanide, and PCB’s
soaked the soil, leached the creek bed 
& settled in the flesh of wildlife

upstream human waste 
is diverted further underground through the Delavan Drain
sourced through glacial deposits
re-energized from a subterranean lake
it’s still not enough

sitting on the bank below the falls, I lift defiled water in my hand
the ritual of affusion suffices in the absence of living water 
can reclamation lead to resurrection?
on most days, I’m grateful it doesn’t burn my eyes or lungs

I confess 
I thought of it as a ditch, a sewer
flood-control for the mall that destroyed its wetlands
it’s not that I despised it the way the city did
when they buried it in the 1920’s

I just didn’t care
we no longer needed its once famous grasses 
for its fish nets and baskets
Its role in turning back the British
is ancient history to us
and we never sensed departed ancestors 
gathering at its terminus

I have little faith in ritual
but I don’t know what else to do
pouring from my palm
water to live
water to forgive
water to heal

** pronounced: sgān jōh gwaa dēh

[pre verse]
Scajaquada 

streaming from its poison culvert, it enters Forest Lawn
running through Olmsted’s sculpted ravine
undisturbed only here
not channeled
not tunneled
still flowing over 400 million year old dolomite

in Moffett’s Grove
two sunbathers in appropriately black bikinis 
recline safely away from the leer of living men
with only male finches and cicadas within earshot

two miles downstream
Philip Kenjockety lived creekside with his family
just northeast of the trinity
delta, Black Rock, and island, 
sanctuary they said for birds and spirits 

by his Seneca name
Ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“Beyond the Multitude”
the creek would later be called
famed panther hunter
the refugeed grandson 
of the vanquished Kah-Kwahs
whose father led the conquering Seneca

the site of the family wigwams was later zoned “M-2”
General 
Industrial 
District
benzene, toluene, xylene, lead, cyanide, and PCB’s
soaked the soil, leached the creek bed 
& settled in the flesh of wildlife

upstream human waste 
is diverted further underground through the Delavan Drain
sourced through glacial deposits
re-energized from a subterranean lake
it’s still not enough
sitting on the bank below the falls, I lift defiled water in my hand
the ritual of affusion suffices in the absence of living water 
can reclamation lead to resurrection?
on most days, I’m grateful it doesn’t burn my eyes or lungs

I confess 
I thought of you as a ditch, a sewer, flood-control for the mall
that robbed you of your wetlands
I didn’t despise you, the way city did when they buried you
so they didn’t have to face what they had done

I just didn’t care
we no longer needed your famous grasses for your once famous baskets
your role to defeat the British, no longer mattered
and we never cared that at your mouth gathered
long-forgotten ancestors

pouring from my palm
water to carry away
water to forgive
water to heal

Reply
#2
.
Hi bbc,
it really comes into its own in the final five stanzas (or so), but the opening is a bit too dry.
Why are bikinis 'appropriately black'? I was also confused with how much the watercourse represented Kenjockty, or vice versa
(and the deliberate(?) omission of Creek from the title didn't help).
That you don't start the piece at the 'source' but somewhere in/under Buffalo, might require an explanation.

Some of the phrasing could be improved, for instance
by his Seneca name
Ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
Beyond the Multitude”
the creek would later be called
the (bold) construction is too convoluted, I think.


and some parts just seem included for information, rather than 'value', e.g.
we no longer needed your famous grasses for your once famous baskets
your role to defeat the British, no longer mattered
you could edit that stanza to
I just didn’t care
that at your mouth gathered
long-forgotten ancestors


I'd suggest beginning with 'two miles downstream' (though, downstream from what?), and move from past to present over the
course of the piece (and end on 'forgive').


Best, Knot



.
Reply
#3
Thanks. Definitely food for thought.
(01-26-2020, 08:20 PM)Knot Wrote:  .
Hi bbc,
it really comes into its own in the final five stanzas (or so), but the opening is a bit too dry.
Why are bikinis 'appropriately black'? I was also confused with how much the watercourse represented Kenjockty, or vice versa
(and the deliberate(?) omission of Creek from the title didn't help).
That you don't start the piece at the 'source' but somewhere in/under Buffalo, might require an explanation.

Some of the phrasing could be improved, for instance
by his Seneca name
Ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
Beyond the Multitude”
the creek would later be called
the (bold) construction is too convoluted, I think.


and some parts just seem included for information, rather than 'value', e.g.
we no longer needed your famous grasses for your once famous baskets
your role to defeat the British, no longer mattered
you could edit that stanza to
I just didn’t care
that at your mouth gathered
long-forgotten ancestors


I'd suggest beginning with 'two miles downstream' (though, downstream from what?), and move from past to present over the
course of the piece (and end on 'forgive').


Best, Knot



.
Reply
#4
still a couple of trouble spots, but I think it moved forward.
Reply
#5
.
Hi bbc.
It has moved forward, but it's still too long, I think, and too much emphasis given to detail one could find in guide books and not enough
(though more and better in the revision) on N's reaction.

The first two verses don't engage (in either their detail or language). There's nothing that invites me in, or makes me want to stay.

L24. I like the line, but it seems both misplaced and contradicted by the 'I confess' verse.

L31. I'm getting lost on the 'trinity delta, black rock and island (are all three necessary in terms of identifying the location?)

L32. Do you mean 'an', not 'and'?

S4. There's too much going on in this verse, I'm not clear on what N is trying to say.

Some suggestions ...


More than a Buffalo word                                 (makes for an interesting (and pronounceable Smile ) title?)


I discovered it, here
in Moffett’s Grove
among the songs
of male finches
and cicadas,
far from the headwaters
of its quiet springs                                               I get what you're trying to say, but 'mitigated' doesn't work.

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“Beyond the Multitude”

more than an expressway
that segregates and divides

and
more than a street
that marks like a headstone

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
more than 76 spelling,
76 stories                                                                Any better phrasing for this?

more than a creek
whose pronunciation sets us apart

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh

fewer than 50 native speakers left
a defeated people becoming myth

two miles downstream
Philip Kenjockety
- refugee grandson
of the defeated Kah-Kwahs -
lived with his family

the site of their wigwams
just northeast of the trinity delta,                        can 'delta' be cut?
was later zoned “M-2”
General Industrial District
benzene, toluene, xylene, lead,
cyanide, and PCB’s soaked the soil,
leached the creek bed                                          leached into?
& settled the wildlife's flesh


ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
sitting on the bank below the falls,
I lift defiled water in my hand
the ritual of affusion suffices                            What and how does it suffice?

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
I confess                            I think this should be addressed directly to the creek. 'You' not 'it'
I thought of you as a ditch,
a sewer, of flood-control for the mall
that destroyed your wetlands
when I though of you at all.

It’s not that I despised you
the way the city did
when they buried you back in the '20’s
I just didn’t care

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
we no longer need your grasses
for baskets and fishing nets
Your role in turning back the British
is ancient history We have moved on
so we don't see the ancestors
gathering at your terminus                                  what do you mean by 'terminus'?


in the absence of living water
can reclamation lead to resurrection?
on most days, I’m just grateful
you don’t burn                                     I think this would be a good place to end



Hope this helps


Best, Knot



.
Reply
#6
A lot to think about. Thanks. Hard for me to stay out of the weeds with this one. (See what I did there)

(01-30-2020, 09:21 PM)Knot Wrote:  .
Hi bbc.
It has moved forward, but it's still too long, I think, and too much emphasis given to detail one could find in guide books and not enough
(though more and better in the revision) on N's reaction.

The first two verses don't engage (in either their detail or language). There's nothing that invites me in, or makes me want to stay. I'll have to think about that.

L24. I like the line, but it seems both misplaced and contradicted by the the I confess stanza is what the N felt prior to his "discovery". Have to find a way to make that clear.

L31. I'm getting lost on the 'trinity delta, black rock and island (are all three necessary in terms of identifying the location?). Yes, the sanctuary  is created between the 3 triangulated places.

L32. Do you mean 'an', not 'and'? AND

S4. There's too much going on in this verse, I'm not clear on what N is trying to say.  I was introducing Philip Kenjockety, and yes I meant to use refugeed as a verb.

Some suggestions ...


More than a Buffalo word                                 (makes for an interesting (and pronounceable Smile ) title?)  Hysterical


I discovered it, here
in Moffett’s Grove
among the songs
of male finches
and cicadas,
far from the headwaters
of its quiet springs                                               I get what you're trying to say, but 'mitigated' doesn't work. Actually hard/impossible to mitigate a spring, but all of the wetlands surrounding the springs were mitigated. IE filled in, with the promise of creating an equal amount of wetlands elsewhere. I took liberty of extending mitigation to the spring that fed them. My guess is they piped the spring/source downstream under the well-healed subdivisions they built on top of it. 

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
“Beyond the Multitude”

more than an expressway
that segregates and divides

and
more than a street
that marks like a headstone

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
more than 76 spelling,
76 stories                                                                Any better phrasing for this? Probably

more than a creek
whose pronunciation sets us apart

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh

fewer than 50 native speakers left
a defeated people becoming myth

two miles downstream
Philip Kenjockety
- refugee grandson
of the defeated Kah-Kwahs -
lived with his family

the site of their wigwams
just northeast of the trinity delta,                        can 'delta' be cut? Not that I can see
was later zoned “M-2”
General Industrial District
benzene, toluene, xylene, lead,
cyanide, and PCB’s soaked the soil,
leached the creek bed                                          leached into? Also probably
& settled the wildlife's flesh


ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
sitting on the bank below the falls,
I lift defiled water in my hand
the ritual of affusion suffices                            What and how does it suffice? When the N lifts the water it reminds him of affusion (baptism by pouring water on the forehead) Affusion suffices only when there is no available source of living water (a natural flowing body of water). Although technically Sqajaquada qualifies as living water, after decades of poisoning and altering its hydrology the N doesn't think it qualifies. Baptism offers forgiveness, but not for the uninitiated, something the N would't know that it's not for the uninitiated.

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh I confess                            I think this should be addressed directly to the creek. 'You' not 'it' A draft or so ago it was in the 2nd person, but it felt uncomfortable. I can revisit it. 
I thought of you as a ditch,
a sewer, of flood-control for the mall
that destroyed your wetlands
when I though of you at all.

It’s not that I despised you
the way the city did
when they buried you back in the '20’s
I just didn’t care

ska-dyoh-gwa-deh
we no longer need your grasses
for baskets and fishing nets
Your role in turning back the British
is ancient history We have moved on
so we don't see the ancestors
gathering at your terminus                                  what do you mean by 'terminus'? Where the creek ends and enters the river. 


in the absence of living water
can reclamation lead to resurrection?
on most days, I’m just grateful
you don’t burn                                     I think this would be a good place to end. hmm



Hope this helps


Best, Knot



.
Reply
#7
.
Hi bbc.

Yes, the sanctuary is created between the 3 triangulated places.

Which is fine if I'm looking to visit and need directions, but what does such specificity add to the poem?

I was introducing Philip Kenjockety, and yes I meant to use refugeed as a verb.

Apologies should have been S5. But either way, too much fluff. What does his being a panther hunter have to do with anything else in the poem? Which is more important, refugee status or his father's prowess? Or that it was Commodore Perry who renamed the creek? Or ...
It's too much Wikipedia entry, not enough poetry (like the first two verses).

Actually hard/impossible to mitigate a spring, but all of the wetlands surrounding the springs were mitigated. IE filled in, with the promise of creating an equal amount of wetlands elsewhere. I took liberty of extending mitigation to the spring that fed them. My guess is they piped the spring/source downstream under the well-healed subdivisions they built on top of it.

The how about 'silenced' in contrast to the 'noise' of the birds/cicadas?

When the N lifts the water it reminds him of affusion (baptism by pouring water on the forehead) Affusion suffices only when there is no available source of living water (a natural flowing body of water). Although technically Sqajaquada qualifies as living water, after decades of poisoning and altering its hydrology the N doesn't think it qualifies. Baptism offers forgiveness, but not for the uninitiated, something the N wouldn't know that it's not for the uninitiated.

They wouldn't know about 'initiation'' but they'd know 'affusion'?
Into what is N seeking 'admission/adoption' through baptism?

Where the creek ends and enters the river.

Isn't that a 'confluence' or a 'watersmeet'?


Hard for me to stay out of the weeds with this one. (See what I did there)

Fair enough, but editing is its own skill.


Best, Knot.


.
Reply
#8
Hi Scajaquada.

Thanks for sharing this.

I think your poem has a good sense of movement, but that it lost its flow somewhat in the middle. I felt that the insertion of historic and cultural references was laboured and clashed with the flow of the poem. My attention was reignited from the seventh stanza where I felt it had a more human element. This may be a conscious contrast you've chosen to draw, but if this had been in a book I probably wouldn't have made it to your excellent seventh stanza.

Good luck and best wishes
Reply
#9
I'm a bit uncomfortable using an exact rhyme. It's not something I do, but I liked the sound of it.Ultimately it highlights how most people here relate to Scajaquada as a word.
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