february 2 2020 (eight years)

eight years

eight years

and you feel like

 

no time has passed at all,

like the world has ended and begun again,

 

like nothing will ever be as it was,

like everything is the same

 

eight years

eight years

and and as many questions

 

and am I still the same person but another gender,

or miles away from gender

 

and the world is being shaken and I am shaken

and everything is shaking like a tent,

these spirits

come and go, they

come and go

 

eight years and I know nothing

and feel it all

 

eight years

and I still remember the day we ran from the cops

and how they searched you

and my hands still curl into fists

 

eight years and now they call it diversity,

and they talk about inclusion,

and does anybody remember the day a thousand people were rounded up and caged,

and the cops said ‘you’re not in Canada anymore, this is g20 land’

but we were louder ‘this is turtle island, fuck the maple leaf’

and never flew that fucking flag again

 

and my body was bruised and I looked down at myself and did I see a woman,

and was it a woman who walked those streets and was it a woman’s face behind

the masked up me, and was it a woman who painted banners late into the night

and was it a woman in the streets was it a woman who argued for diversity of tactics,

what if it was me all along and do I even make sense now will I ever make sense again

 

and why can’t I leave it all alone and behind me

and just say I’m “confused”

and I’m sure I’ll get over it

and you can go on loving this baffled skin

and I’ll come to peace with it all

 

in eight years, eight years

february 1 2020 (we were grass)

we were grass

we were more than grass

we were rivers

we were stones by the water

 

we were tall trees at night

we were under the land,

we were above the stars

like our son’s turning journey in the Milky Way,

becoming

we have become who we were,

to become who we are,

 

i believe in love at first (re)sight,

this life, and anyway, at first sight of you,

my heart leaped as with an old friend,

your lips had been waiting for mine,

not because i was a new love,

but because i was a very, very old love.

we were grass

we were our ancestors

we were faces in the ground

we were, we were once here

we did not come to new places,

only revisited old homelands of love, blood, long nights

that one blue night,

you slept and i,

i saw these worlds bend into one shape

surrounding every tree, every piece of sky

i felt the circles gather again around us you sleeping,

i awake and dreaming,

these ceremonies became all we knew

and all we needed to know of ourselves

we were grass,

when you brushed my skin with grass

i felt time ripple back and knew your skin brushed mine,

long ago before white skin, ships

or english names existed

we were grass, remember?

when we were grass, remember?

all this echoes in my touch

how can we not call each other home?

january 5 2020 (lilac season on six nations 2013)

it’s lilac season on six nations

bread & cheese marks the midpoint

 

once a year, the lilacs

make walking on the road beat driving

and underneath it all, in spring,

people die, flowers are delivered

 

we wait for babies to be born

and an old man stops to pick a lilac

for an old woman laid out peacefully

by her daughters, a woman he loved

or maybe just knew

 

and 17 year old veterans of Kahnonstaton

released from jail smell the lilac breeze again,

for the first time in two years

and maybe feel a little again

or at least, home

 

and 29-turning nishkwes

writes poems sparked by the

simple honesty of body death

 

and the revolution never

and the revolution never

and the revolution never ends

january 2 2020 (for too many to name)

i wanted to shield you from all this

and keep you safe.

 

my own heart never compelled me

to write a story for myself

but with the heart of a nine year old prodding me

and your unbending gender defiance drawing me

how can stories not emerge from within me

and rise to the surface like resurrected bodies

 

little seeds of stories whose dormant bodies

have lain my belly for years and years, compel

all these seeds to break their shells

and fling their fragile arms toward the light

 

why were all we defiant hearts born at once, still being born

crossing and recrossing into one another’s cycling orbits

like a generation of unholy stars

 

born for a fascist state, one police nation under the white god

born for the rebellion, raised on revolution only we could see

born raised fists holding a prayer to raze parliament’s sickness

 

born out of line because someone must be left behind

while the march goes on ahead, there must be those

whose dance must scorch the muddy fields breathless clean

break the certain uncertainty of borders, for all borders must break

 

and stand like a torn flag with nothing left to hold

(not even you)

star sons and born daughters, all endings are beginnings

since no power can shield you or keep you safe

i will write you every story that was ever born within me

 

and die like a miigis, a shell adorning the face of the earth

with songs releasing till the infant dawn of time

 

 

 

“rise like lions after slumber.

in unvanquishable number.

shake your chains to earth like dew.

which in sleep has fallen on you.

ye are many—they are few.”

percy bysshe shelley

december 20 2019 (re-association in 2010)

after almost two seasons,

seven months of state imposed non-association

these two men embrace like brothers on a battlefield

 

their arms thrown across each other’s broad backs,

heads buried in each other’s shoulders

they couldn’t stop glancing to make sure

his brother was still there, real and alive

though the time was too shortened and interrupted,

neither could lean his whole weight on the other

 

then yesterday, after nine months of state imposed non-association

two men again embraced in the same place another had stood, and again,

i saw with my own eyes, the love of men again

 

the weight of their joy, the lock of their arms

the heaviness lifted and with firm, blunt stitches

they sewed themselves back into each other’s lives

until the gaping seams were scars,

strengthened by the break.

 

and turning over in my mind what i had seen

finding in the cruelty of state oppression,

when the arms that hold us back from the edge of disaster

are bound by repression, or sickness, or even death

 

we walk out of the courts, into the jails and into a frenzy of isolation—we feel so alone

what can we do but spin mindlessly out of control, remaining unconscious so as to survive

taking with us all we have promised, falling captive to mind demons

when one voice calling only breaks itself against its own throat

banked on every side by the constant unpredictability of tyranny

 

blinding, unending white night

he is blurred by loss and sinking fast,

forgetting even the memory of how to hold

 

what can we do but wait for the day?

breathing low and slow, conserving all strength to hold on

and crouch around the ember just a little while longer

pared down to the hope of one or the other breaking—

ourselves, or a small crack in the wall.

 

brothers, i have seen your strong arms and strong hearts

shatter the wedge they drove between you, then

circle it slowly to decide on its fate. use it. use it

to pound against these prison walls

each small crack, each muted shout heard from the cell becomes

a single light in the darkness for the almost-gone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

september 16 2017 (after the water walk)

I need romance novels
that make saying no, the sexiest thing ever

and I need a powwow song
danced by genderqueer grassdancers 

I need a men's drum group 
singing 49's about men they're lovin'

and I need my scars
to be the best thing you see about me

I need a minute to cry 
in the middle 
of the best day of my life

and I need a ceremony
for all my blood on the ground

I need songs that feel like
thunder ripping from my throat

and I need to see every pipeline
shut down on the evening news
as a memorial to genocide

and herons returning,
and lodges all over the city

and cops being led away in handcuffs
to the sound of girls on their berry fasts,
singing down their power, I need

this water like I need this body, 
these blown veins, this scarred body
and the land is my body is the land is 
your body is the land, is nibi, is niiyaw

is nibi, is niiyaw
is nibi, is niiyaw
is nibi, is niiyaw

august 17 2017 (dear paul)

 dear paul,

      but there was something about standing there under those lights
      with the room in anthem to an unknown power

did you feel it too?

paul,

      we did, and we were. shook feared into the beyond and did not die, paul,
      saw a world beyond a wasted veil and heard songs that came from there

my God, paul

      we saw what came after the stars
      how did we remain alive?

paul,

      this man's hands shone so brightly,
      he had to wrap them in a sweater on the night bus home


my sister speaks of horned ones and their masks

      in war when a man's life was saved when
      Prechta replaced his intestines with brushwood, we used to know

we used to know these things, she dreamed them with her baby,
      the bone cradles, the braids of sinew, the belly slicers,
      the undoing goddesses with handfuls of abortifacient seeds,

we used to sing these stories to our unborn children

we are still standing on the edges of worlds, paul,
      we murder, and birth, and sleep, and breathe,
      and make love on the edges of worlds

      only sometimes feeling the rush of air,
      afraid of falling, surprised we dream of flying