Poem: Grieving Mother

I was the woman with a child born grieving,
I was the child feeling this grieving,
I was the child who grew into grieving-running,
I was the child who wounded self and others,
I was the child who was tumultuous,
I was the child who was labeled "at-risk,"
I was the woman with the child who said no to the "at-risk" label,

Fire and light have catapulted us across time,
In a celebration of beautiful refrains,
Sang near bright candles in red glass candle holders,
Red pebbles,
Red berries,
Red cloth,
Red birds,
Reborn,
Reborn,
Reborn,

This light,
The child has left the corridor.

Poem: Ajijaak Dodem Anokii

It is so precious,
These tears on my hands,
Covering my face,
This grieving is beautiful,
You see we had felt those knives turned inward,
On ourselves,
On our family,
When we could not speak,
When we could not feel,

These tears are precious,
Incredibly triumphant,
Reciprocity of sadness,
Melancholy,
Feeling emotions,
Generational emotions felt,
Mean that we can heal historical trauma,
Herstorical trauma,
Two-Spirit-denial-I-am-hiding-trauma,
Two-Spirit-the-majority-culture-makes-me-feel-shame-trauma,
No more,
Silent No More,

Tears on pillows,
Blankets,
Walls,
Wiped,
To heal,
Cleanse,
Rebooting the old ancient ways,

If these spirits towered over us,
What could we feel was that fist in the cement,
And drifting,
Woozy,
Pacing,
Drifting,

Static through our heads,
The cold metal desk,
Work places,
Public spaces,
Sweaty palms,
Nervousness streaked across tables,
Desks,

If the Grandfather listened,
And honored us,
And did not judge us,
Even though we judged ourselves,
For loving you,
For trying to help you,

If the Grandmother said,
I support you,
And took your hand,
As a gift unimaginable,

This is in fact dodem anokii,
You see,
Not social work,
Dodem anokii,

Ajijaak dodem,

Do you know what all of this means?

- - - - - - - - - -

Translations

Ajijaak - Crane
Anokii - Work
Dodem - Clan

Poem: Nokomis dash Mishomis

Grandpa (Mishomis) LaPointe and me - December 1983.

Grandpa (Mishomis) LaPointe and me - December 1983.

You see we have been striving for generations to feel ode,
Scoop down,
Kneel down,
Pick up,
And gather,
The teachings,

But this means in feeling ode we feel the hurt,
Magnified sorrow by oppressive forces,
Hands on the curb,
Pieces of the cement glued to our hands as we rise,
We must brush this off,
The train speeds by,
The street light flickers,
The curb is a metaphor for being sidelined,
Unseen,
Invisible,
We must continue on,
Only to end up laying on the floor for 14 hours,
Unable to move,
Our tears too much,
To breathe,
Yet to rise,
Rise,
Rise,
Recover,

Can you feel the heart of everything?
Do you remember the carpet?
The white walls?
The smell?
Rise,
Rise,
Recover,

There were times we couldn't breath,
The dominant culture decided our identity for us,
To withstand a lifetime of racism,
To stand up and rise,
To speak out against racism,
To speak for others who can't speak,
To speak for others who are afraid,
To speak for the ancestors who were silenced,
To speak for the ones who are on their way,

Zaagidewin,
Opening ode,

Gwekwaadeziwin,
With ourselves,

Aakidehewin,
To feel ode,

Mnaadendmowin,
For ourselves,

Dbaadendiziwin,
In the circle,

Debwewin,
Speak it from ode,

Nbwaakaawin,
Always in the circle,

Gently feet dance on the Earth,
Prayers for recovery,
Tears for recovery,
Hot summer sun,
Smiling,
Laughing,
This joy is ours,
We are strong,
We are strengthening who we are,

The bead work,
The laughter,
Water,
Prayers,
Cedar,

We feel your smiles,
We feel your gentleness,

Chi miigwech nokomis!
Chi miigwech mishomis!

- - - - - 

Translations

- Aakidehewin - Courage
- Chi miigwech - Many thanks
- Dash - And
- Dbaadendiziwin - Humility
- Debwewin - Truth
- Gwekwaadeziwin - Honesty
- Mishomis - Grandfather
- Mnaadendmowin - Respect
- Nbwaakaawin - Wisdom
- Nokomis - Grandmother
- Ode - Heart
- Zaagidewin - Love

Poem: Why Can't You Hold the Baby

Why can't you hold the baby,
My tears are like sticky glue,
That with my fingers I touch these trees,
In our territory,
The ancestors listen,

My tears have a message,
Meaning,
Trauma,
Why can't you hold the baby,

The pine needles mesh and mold into the Earth,
The ancestors listen,

Cedar trees,
A circle,
The ancestors listen,

My tears I wipe on the bark of these pines,
My tears I wipe on the birch bark,
Tearing at the old,

Its dangerous,
Healing is,
Why can't you hold the baby.

Poem: Ode to All of the Insults and Cultural Insensitivity

An ode to all of the insults and cultural insensitivity,
The debilitation of words that force our vanishing,
Across territories,
You've insulted my family,
Community,
Bands,

Madeline Island,
Moningwunakauning - place of the golden-breasted woodpecker,
Also known as LaPointe,
Our homeland,
The place of our ancestors,
 
Missed identities,
Unmarked censuses,

It always starts with,
I love your culture,

It must be that Indian in ya,
Said the hippie-dip who insultingly threw beer bottles on our powwow grounds,
Gross insensitivity displayed,
The truth of the individual revealed,
Not this "we're all one" bullshit,
Not for respecting Anishinaabekwe, 
And the powwow grounds are alcohol and drug free,
To honor sacredness of our land,
Water, 

You know a real Indian,
Said the enlightened Buddhist in Boulder, Colorado,
Because I am not a real Indian, 

Do your people live in tipi's?
Laughs obnoxiously at me in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan,
Median income for a family is well over $200,000,

Remarked bitterness in a farm field in Manistee County,
As I am labeled "the other," by "progressives,"

If you were to present in the Native community you would be seen as white,
Said a Native activist who fights for Native people to define their lives and identities for themselves,
When she defined my life and my identity at that moment it was a form of colonization,
Later she would exclude me from her "movement" that claims to be for everyone,

But blood quantum does matter,
How much are you?
How do you know you are Native American?
Everybody thinks its cool these days to be a minority these days,

Fake Indian,
Fake poet,
You're a wannabe,
I thought you were white,

And finally, 
It must be really cool to be Indian.