This Poem was Submitted By: marilyn terwilleger On Date: 2005-02-02 21:19:42 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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Red Feather

He was strong, young, and brave.  His skin glistened like burnished copper in the dawning sun.  His long raven hair pulled back and secured with deer sinew, and one red feather tucked inside. Bare to  the waist he wore only a leather loin cloth, his muscles sinewy and rigid. He squatted at the root of the grand Teton mountains and surveyed his world. He loved the pine trees that strained to stroke the invincible sky, the bugle of the wild wapiti, and the sonorous cadenza of the Trumpeter Swans with black wedge shaped bills and stark white feathers.  He could hear the haunting chant of his people in aspen trees as they quaked in harmony  with the breeze. His name was Red Feather Standing beside him, with nostrils flared, his pinto pawed the earth as if he knew this day would be different.  His thumb grazed the blade of his tomahawk and drew a bead of blood, his bow strung taut, his arrows sharp.  Today he was a tenderfoot but before sun down he would be a warrior.  Soon he would join the Cheyenne in a mighty battle against the Pawnee.  He would take many scalps and prove to be a brave, revered by his tribe and their enemies. He grabbed a hank of the pinto's mane and in one quick movement he mounted his pony and loped across the clearing.  The Tetons never left his sight as if they were protecting him, with their indomitable strength, from the battle that loomed ahead.  He was poised, alert, and excited when he met the Cheyenne, resplendent in their war paint and feathers. He never returned to his teepee that day...he fought his first and final battle as a warrior If you gaze into the night when the moon is nude and stars blink you may see him astride his cayuse, his midnight hair flowing behind him as he gallops across heaven's path, with spear held high above his head, ready for any ghost in the esoteric sky. His soul belongs to the great spirit, Manitou His legend to infinity His name was Red Feather

Copyright © February 2005 marilyn terwilleger

Additional Notes:
This is for you Mell

This Poem was Critiqued By: Troy D Skroch On Date: 2005-02-21 02:08:50
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
marilyn, Did I see you post something in the forum about being on a hunt for a man? I have to tell you that when I started to read this poem I didn't know where you were going with it. I was thinking that it should have been titled "Red Feathers", but then I regained my composure. Wow does this gets me going. I'm ready to go to battle right now. Your descriptive wording is excellent throughout. I particularly enjoyed some of the following lines. "His skin glistened like burnished copper in the dawning sun" What a strong image this is. "He squatted at the root of the grand Teton mountains and surveyed his world." Cool. What a visualization. And I love the use of the word "root" here. "If you gaze into the night when the moon is nude and stars blink you may see him astride his cayuse, his midnight hair flowing behind him as he gallops across heaven's path, with spear held high above his head, ready for any ghost in the esoteric sky." This is precious. What an epic read marilyn. Jeez, if I was Red Feather, I would want you to write my poem. I'm just going to stretch into the poem a little deeper mentally and associate some of the images quickly with my own thinking. i am standing to the dawn of my last day encouraged by the chanting, the war paint, the beautiful mountain vista, muscles tight with the anticipation of conquest, the breath of my horse, electrified air, the spirits are close, a cold prickling feeling all around me.... Yes you capture his excitement to go to war and tie it off nicely, empowering him through his people and the Tetons. I can feel his heart racing as he rides to engage in the battle and feel it beat it's final beat as he lies dying. Letting his spirit escape to the sky. Even the mountains can't "root" him to the world. Nor can the promise of manhood. He's just to perfect to let live. You immortalize him in the end though, at least giving him a chance to "save face," so to speak. Excellent writing and a truly enjoyable read for this unorthodox critiquer. You must know a lot about the west. I bet you live in Montana, Wyoming or Utah. I was recently to the Tetons. Awesome. Thanks marilyn, Troy

This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne M Uppendahl On Date: 2005-02-14 13:05:08
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Dear Marilyn: This poem has a vivid, cinematographic effect on this reader. I think of the recent film, "In Search of Neverland" based on the life of playwright JM Barrie, of Peter Pan fame. You tell a sublime story with keen, bold brushstrokes, an uninhibited imagination, and a gift for 'spellbinding' the reader. It works! I'd suggest cutting words where you can. I couldn't resist experimenting with this in present tense because in your final stanza, you place the reader in the scene, bring Red Feather's life and legend into the present time. My thought is 'what if' you make the story happening in the eternal now throughout? Toss these ideas if they do not fit your vision for this stunning work. He is strong, young, and brave, [his] skin glistening like burnished copper in the dawning sun. [his] Long raven hair pulled back, [and] secured with deer sinew, one red feather tucked inside. Bare to the waist he wears only a leather loin cloth, muscles sinewy and rigid(firm). He squats at the root of the grand Teton mountains to survey his world. This magnificent poem seems ready to burst from the page, though the prose style slows this reader to some extent. I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next. This is bold and beautiful, Marilyn. I hope you won't mind my tinkering with what already is a very good thing. There are memorable phrases from the second stanza which leapt out at this reader, alive with great intensity and luscious imagery: "pine trees that strained to stroke the invincible sky" "bugle of the wild wapiti" "sonorous cadenza of the Trumpeter Swans" This single line calls complete attention to the central figure of this narrative: "His name was Red Feather" In keeping with the idea of present tense my mind 'heard' it this way -- "His name is Red Feather" And in S3 I mentally changed all of the verbs with all action happening now. I love the sounds of "thumb grazed the blade" and the plosive energy of the b's in "blade/bead/blood/bow/brave" for example. And then, s4's fated climax of the story, the moment when he proves himself: He grabbed a hank of the pinto's mane and in one quick movement he mounted his pony and loped across the clearing. The Tetons never left his sight as if [they were] protecting him, with [their] indomitable strength, from the battle [that loomed] ahead. [He was] poised, alert, and excited(,) [when] he met the Cheyenne, resplendent in [their] war paint and feathers. These suggestions, with your permission, are for your use only if you like the effects in this wondrous piece. Sadly, having fulfilled his duty to his tribe as a flawless, courageous warrior, his mission on earth is complete" "He never returned to his teepee that day...he fought his first and final battle as a warrior" Theses lines above are a perfect, succinct summation of the action which has taken place. You show that no matter how brief a life may be, the value of it is if we live according to our highest purpose, acting whole-heartedly with nothing in reserve. The last stanza and following lines are exquisite. They leave me with a longing for what has passed, and a realization that it is as your ability to recreate it in the form of poetic artistry, as close as the response in my heart to Red Feather's bravery. "If you gaze into the night when the moon is nude --WONDERFUL! and stars blink you may see him astride his cayuse, his midnight hair flowing behind him as he gallops across heaven's path, with spear held high [above his head] ready for any ghost in the esoteric sky. His soul belongs to the great spirit, Manitou His legend to infinity His name was Red Feather" How many of us would be as brave, embrace our destiny in complete obedience to duty? As he belongs to Manitou (Great Spirit) we belong to God, though our life be lengthy or brief. May the stories that we leave behind for those who come after us be as noble as Red Feather's purposeful example. The message I take from this poem is to live life to its fullest, holding nothing back, living according to our soul's highest calling and giving the glory to God. Your tribute to Mell, a very brave individual, and beloved of TPL, seems very apropos in light of her Cherokee heritage. Brava! My best always, Joanne
This Poem was Critiqued By: Elaine Marie Phalen On Date: 2005-02-14 09:33:10
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Hi Marilyn, This is a vividly descriptive prose passage. I say prose because it has the format characteristics of the prose genre, although the diction includes striking images more often seen in poetics. The inserts of more structured verse stand out very nicely. I'm not sure of the inspiration behind this but I gather it's a poem by Mell (?). Anyhow, you've set the scene with great clarity and then taken us into the young brave's psyche. All is hushed - both outside and within - and there's an expectant tension set up with words like "alert" and "excited"> Yet the bead of blood from the cut serves as foreshadowing. The mountains that seem to protect him are, perhaps, also closing in and watching his final hours. You have a feel for clear, richly-textured langauge. I would like to read a bit about his experience of dying in battle. There's a quick leap from his sight of his fellow warriors, and the realization that he's not coming back. I know it will make for a longer work but I think you do need that point of crisis, because it's really the pivot around which the narrative rises and falls. If referring to his "legend", we need to know what that is, why it's legendary. This implies some amazing feat of courage But maybe Mell's piece includes that. I'm operating at a disadvantage for not being familiar with it ... I've enjoyed the read. Brenda
This Poem was Critiqued By: Sandee L McMullan On Date: 2005-02-10 02:24:19
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
Title: Red Feather I like the title, attractive and sets an image for the reader. The beginning line invites the reader in. On first glance of the format, this appears to be prose form. I think to pare down this piece to a poetic form could give some immediacy to the message. Use the bare bones of this piece to unfold the poem, rather than expanding in a narrative with extra words and phrases. There are many “his” and “he” "that" some of which could be dropped and lines re-phrased to tighten this piece up for drama. example: “He was strong, young, and brave, skin glistened like burnished copper in the sun; long raven hair pulled back, secured with deer sinew, one red feather tucked inside; a bare waist, with only a leather loin cloth -- muscles sinewy and rigid.” The lines are lengthy and the breaks could be done to give shorter lines. This also, would help the reader to move through the piece easily; grasping the descriptive images and action with in a quicker delivery and words more to the point. The choice as to where to break the lines could be improved upon; best not to break after word “and, to” or a “the” as the reader is left hanging with an incomplete thought. I love the adventure in this piece. It is unique, not knowing what is coming next, with a pleasant feel to the experience. The narrator has a grace for story telling/writing. Some of the images are a tad over-modified with more than one adjective per noun/verb. This can weaken them; choose these carefully make every one count. I enjoyed this read esp. part with moon/stars and esoteric sky. This adds a spiritual quality to the mood and adds another feature to the man as the piece moves towards a summation. . . . . regards
This Poem was Critiqued By: Mell W. Morris On Date: 2005-02-09 16:53:03
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Marilyn: What an honor! and it comes from you! your Cheyenne name must be "Shadow of Tetons" know how I rename all and sundry. I told myself when I started reading to stay detached, do not go in with nerve ends exposed for I know my dearest Shadow. Why must they always die? I think everything dies in comparison to the Tetons but since he was created for me, I wouldn't overly protest his visitations at my bedroom window! Small nit in the 1st stanza...I want his muscles sinewy and "fluid" in lieu of rigid. Toss it if you so desire. I really like pine trees which strained to stroke the sky and the bugle of the wild wapiti. I never knew the sound of an elk. Thanks. I like that you tell us his name after two stanzas. Using his name for the title doesn't appeal to me but I think it would be more unique as "In The Shadows of The Tetons", etc, etc. No big deal here. If I stood beside Red Feather, my nostrils would likely have flared as well, not to mention, pawing the rug. Marilyn, your descriptions are lovely and I imagine you not as "Keeper of the Gems" but "Word Woman". You know how I love words and also, unfortunately, I always tell the truth. I find two examples of catachresis in your final stanza: "esoteric" for sky, and "cayuse" for horse. I know you don't need syns for sky but for horse, ghosted pinto, steed, stallion, mount,etc. Dearest friend, any nits were for options...I love the poem, every line, and at this very horrible time in my life, "Red Feather" is a friend created only for me. I told you it resided on my bedside table. For me, there is no greater honor than having a poem dedicated to me. It is an eternal gift in the sense that it will be with me till I'm dead and then it will be Eric's. I can never adequately thank you. It is beautiful as a Wyoming sunset. All my best, Mell
This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2005-02-06 17:56:46
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
This is beautiful Marilyn.....From beginning to end you have captured the beauty of Red Feather, a young brave.....your words further describe the Red Feather so that one feels he is standing there before them or perhaps even riding that stately pinto of Jerry had a pinto once and he so loved this horse......from start to finish you have kept the reader captivated with the structure and flare of your words, the images you have created, the feelings and emotions associated with it as well.........he fought his first and final battle as warrior..........and he did it so the finishing touches you added in closing too...... His soul belongs to the great spirit, Manitou His legend to infinity His name was Red Feather Thank you for posting and sharing this with us......a piece to be treasured and posted as a winner.....God Bless, Claire
This Poem was Critiqued By: arnie s WACHMAN On Date: 2005-02-06 15:07:52
Critiquer Rating During Critique: Unknown
Wonderful, wonderful. Love your stories. My family used to have a home on a Lake Manitou (Quebec) which brings back many fond memories. Also, did you know the last great Indian battle was near Lethbridge, Alberta? It was between the Blackfeet (in Canada they're known as the Blackfoot)and the Crow. There is a monument there with the story. Did you also know that scalping was not an original Indian thing? It was actually the French who did that to their Indian captives. Thanks so much for this piece. I do have some writings I may actually present soon. Peace and out....P.S.: the line "the pine trees that strained to stroke the sky" is a wonderful piece of imagery and imagination...
This Poem was Critiqued By: Joanne Duval Morgan On Date: 2005-02-04 15:29:56
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 10.00000
You know Marilyn in college I was an Art History Major, I studied all the old masters, and even delved into Native Art, interpertations by White Men who captured the spirit of Native Culture. What I read in this well written poem, was personification of a soon to be worrier, young and vulnerable, and aching to prove his manhood, but the descriptives in this poem, gave a sense of being, motion, emotion, action catching all the nuances of a wonderful frame of pictures, in action. Brave, undaunted and not really understanding how vunerable he would be up against a tried warrior. You established, a time frame, a quest, emotion, a beautiful picture of the persona of a soon to be warrior. In a nutshell it conveys everything that is in a sequence of a quest. The excitement of a soon to be warrior, the powerful portrayals of a mustage, I can easy pictutre muscels standing taut ready, wonderful descriptive of an Indian Lad, it has it all, but mostly a story and a sad ending. How many young lads faced the same doom, never to return to their teepee. You captured pictures in motion, frame by frame in the one poem. Of course Red Feather the title clues the reader into a poem of Indian lore, so you carried the tale, and used all the mechanics, you painted pictures in words....wonderful. Even if this critique fails to meet you expectations I would have commented, it's truly wonderful. I love poetry that carries human tales and this one meets all expectations, thus my comments. Congratulations, even if it's dedicated to Mell I'm left with a feeling it's a poem dedicated to all Native American decendents.....Love, Jo
This Poem was Critiqued By: Turner Lee Williams On Date: 2005-02-02 23:06:15
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 1.00000
Marilyn--What a nice tribute to Mell and her Native American ancestry. This piece is a poignant "Indian civil war" incident/story. Excellent descriptors and phrasing depict the meticulous preparation of a young Indian lad hoping to earn through battle his coming of age (brave) "badge." Although, apt cere- mony/procedures followed by "Red Feather," melancholic twist/turn indicates, he was unsuccessful in returning alive from his admireable quest. However, much redeemption/honor shown through the placement of his spirit " the esoteric sky." IMO, the relating/relaying of this particular genre shows poet's great snack for combination of poetry/story telling. The background and surround- ing picturesque western scenery is presented in vivid details producing imagery for all the senses. Well done! TLW
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