Monday, August 13, 2018

Blackbird Song — Randy Lundy (University of Regina Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Blackbird Song.  Randy Lundy.  University of Regina Press.  Oskana Poetry & Poetics.  Regina,  Saskatchewan.  2018.

What Today's book of poetry sees most, when we rumble through the pages of Randy Lundy's sublime Blackbird Song, is optimism.  These poems have a knowing bigger than our puny understanding, an entire belief system fueling kindness.  What Randy Lundy does in Blackbird Song is nothing less than reconciliation with the earth, directed by heartsong.

Randy Lundy is a Cree poet so why do I keep thinking of Li Po, the Poet Knight-Errant?  Randy Lundy's poetry makes me think of Robert Bly because these poems are based in the natural world.  Lundy doesn't write like Li Po or Robert Bly but he writes with the same certainty, the knowledge is real.


          after Jane Kenyon

It's true what the dying woman said,
there's no accounting for happiness.

No matter the good will you have spent
trying the patience of family and friends,
some of whom have died. Never mind
that every time you dig deep in your pockets
you find those cold, bright coins
of anger and regret.

Sparrows gather daily at the feeder
you have hung in the elm tree in the backyard
and at the earthen bowl you will fill with water
for their raucous bathing.

Sleek, bright wings glisten in the sun.
They have no shame.


In Randy Lundy world there is time for contemplation and consideration, these aren't meditations, yet.  But in some future world where reasonable people reside, Today's book of poetry could see Blackbird Song as a cornerstone text.

Today's book of poetry is a city boy.  Not a New York City boy, but I grew up with asphalt under my feet.  Lundy, almost instantly, convinces the reader that they inhabit a world only understandable by being in step with nature.

Come to think of it, other than the short mention of a train in one of his poems, the inclusion of an axe and a cigarette in another, Lundy gives us no evidence of civilizations marring of his resplendent nature.  Lundy's world begins and ends in the natural world beyond roofs and ceilings.

Cypress Hills

Here the trees hold the stars
in their spheres. This neither a metaphor,
nor a clever trick. It is simply what to fear
from wind when the cliffs step forward
fall into emptiness.

There is no need for you
to quiet your mind, to shrink your soul
like a drought-dormant root to fit
the coulee's begging bowl.
The coyote and buffalo rubbing stone
pay no heed. The restless dead
wander through pine shadows muttering,
unable to hear your desperate invocations.

Even if they could, they would not pause
but simply vanish into the moon-soaked night
like the white-tailed deer on gleaming hooves
stepping into the mist and darkness, leaving
opposing crescent glyphs in wet earth.

Constellation after constellation turning
on the spears of the trees.


Today's book of poetry believes that Blackbird Song is a celebration and that's how we played it with this morning's reading.  We didn't want to appropriate any one's anything but we did give thanks to the maker of all things with a little tobacco smoke before starting in.

Tomas and Frieda dropped by again this morning so we were sure to get them in the reading line-up.

Randy Lundy's poems read more like good prayers, mantra's for future progress, songs for souls deeply attached to the earth under foot.  These poems feel the liturgy, a guide to new rituals, new empowerment.  Most importantly to Today's book of poetry; they embrace the earth and come back future hopeful.

Another Season

Buds on the mountain ash this spring,
a green paler than you have ever seen.

Sunlight, blackbird singing.
What more could you ask, friend?

Pilgrim, what more?


Blackbird Song is a book of poetry you will always treasure.  These poems are as ageless as the blue, blue sky we hope to see every morning.

Image result for randy lundy photo

Randy Lundy

Randy Lundy is a member of the Barren Lands (Cree) First Nation. He has published two previous collections of poetry, Under the Night Sun and Gift of the Hawk. His work has been widely anthologized. He lives in Pense, Saskatchewan.

“Lundy has entered the place where the masters reside. His poems join the shades that walk among them. There aren’t many people who get to that place and sometimes it can feel very lonely there, but the masters are saved by the brilliant and humble work they have done, their poems the crevices in our lives where the light shines through." 
     – Patrick Lane, author of Washita

“Randy Lundy’s poems bring forward the spirit of his Cree ancestry, and place our species humbly among the creatures of Earth—who are all observed with deep reverence and perceptive care.” 
     – Don McKay, author of Strike/Slip

“This is the book of poems I’ve been waiting for … His poems burn us, feed us, and make us feel beloved even if we have been broken. Language, as he uses it, holds us and leads us to a place where we can mourn and pray and wonder.” 
     – Lorna Crozier, author of What the Soul Doesn’t Want



Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

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