Charlie True

Phillip at Wachusett

The grating of the dried oaks of Wachusett
leaf upon layered leaf
would shatter the wind’s soft lilting whisper
in the sea-pines at Pokanoket.
I listen for it nightly in my sleep,
and hear the wandering dead of the Wampanoags
wailing amongst the dunes
looking for their people.
My father went among the Nipmucs
to die; and I among the Pennacook
and other remnant bands
have come to give life to my people,
or a merciful death without lands.

Our enemies are three, or they are one:
the English plague,
the English god,
and English Greed.

Thousands of leaves fall daily now
From these proud oaks.
Winter marches from the West
in pursuit of a golden sun.
Its soldiers are numerous,
and the land will be devoured
by its white greed.

I must go before Spring
to Narragansett country.
The Great Sachem Canonchet
is a war captain of ability;
I am merely a poet and lover of peace
who has signed too many burning parchments.

(April 24, 1976)

Charlie True, Abenaki, was born in Newbury MA on a kitchen table, delivered by his father. His first months of life were spent living in a tent and his first memories were hearing the songs of the chickadees. He loved living on the salt water marshes of his childhood and in later life, loved living with his wife, Rhonda Besaw in the mountains of  Ndakinna, the heartland of Abenaki territory. Charlie was a true renaissance man, well read and well spoken. For many years, until his passing, he was known as the “Speaker” for the Abenaki Nation of New Hampshire. Charlie left behind many unpublished poems, going back over 50 years.