Poem: Giizhik Naawij

Cedar/Decolonial

The cedar on the water,
Ininwewi-gichigami,
In the light,
On a direction,
A path,

The hand,
The ancestor,
The water,
Become soothing to the soul,

The water,
Like a pure note,
Dazzling across the heart,

Without a sound,
Silence as memory,
The wind,
The pines,

Modern/Colonial

The old lamp,
Near the dock,
Near the village,
Near the hand,
The ancestor,
The water,

The sound,
The prayer,
Do you hear us?

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Translations

Giizhik - Cedar
Ininwewi-gichigami - Illinois Sea aka Lake Michigan
Naawij - Out in the lake

Poem: Mad Libs of Anti-Social Media

My obsession with rotary phones is real. More real than your smartphone. Rotary phones are elegant and regal. Decolonize today! When I run for Ogema in 2029 it will be mandatory to have a rotary phone in your home if you live on the reservation. Sincerely, real olde school Generation X-er.

My obsession with rotary phones is real. More real than your smartphone. Rotary phones are elegant and regal. Decolonize today! When I run for Ogema in 2029 it will be mandatory to have a rotary phone in your home if you live on the reservation. Sincerely, real olde school Generation X-er.

My Instagram left me running,
For myself,
In my own mirror,
Of self-absorption,
I knew I made it big on facebook with a clown,
That in town,
Ran away,
Like a king of a fling,
Ohhhh I am sure that stings,

The TRUTH,
You get the boot,
From the Russian bot,
Watching your activity,
Cuz youse is Indigenous on the internets,

I know you thinkin’ youse is wise,
Decolonizing with tons of hashtags,
You are so a millenilal,

Get a rotary phone,
Listen to the tone,
This is a poem,
So quit the roam,
Of your soul,

Phew!
Thank the God of Two-Spirit God’s,
Decolonial God’s in the Ojibwe night sky,
Alien cat God’s,
Alien angel human God’s prayin’ ya to thee decolonial JESUS,
All caps cuz he was a radical brown man,

What were you in your past life,
A lump on the log of anti-social media,
Smoke smoke smokin’ those likes up,

The world has taken the drug,
This is the smart plan,
To manipulate your soul,

Get out while you can,
Don’t bury your heard in the sand,

Delete,
Uninstall,
Roll it back,
Cuz youse is loosing track,
Of who you is,
In this world,

They will manipulate your mind,
So you think you are fine,
Why in fact you are not free,
Just let the app,
Tap,
Go,
Just be,
Like it was 1982,
With the talkin’ on the steps,
In the hood,
Before the corruption,
Disruption of the dial tone,
Phone.

Poem: Pasta

I’ve been trying to ease the pain of generational trauma,
Through prevention,
As I stand on my track in 48067 in 1997,
I gaze at the clouds,
The trains in the distance fill my soul with a fire,
To run and fly,

I am destined to be great,
But generational trauma takes a toll at age 20,

I’ve towed the line with some of the best,
My bourgeoisie White track friends let me not shave my legs,
They honor my heritage,

But what they don’t see is the pain or sorrow,
Yet to percolate to the surface,
In the suburbs everything appears to be alright,
With do gooder white liberalism,
Supporting my dreams,

But down in the dorm in Oshkosh, Wisconsin,
I am feeling the sorrow of Chief Oshkosh,
The looming darkness envelopes me,
I am in my darkest days,

Once the picture perfect role model,
I am now surveying the darkness of my soul,
Haunts of old,
Demons surround,
I don’t know what self-care means,

I am towing the line of self-mutilation,
Internalized grief eats away at my body,
Which gets funneled into running when I was supposed to be done,
With those competitive days of glory chasing my Timex dreams,

I am running on the land of a sorrowful place,
A sign of suicide awareness in the community,
Beauty has left my face,
I am physically gray,

From 2002-2006 I struggle to maintain my equilibrium,
I wanted to run away but where?

Pasta and perfection,
Measuring cups of Allure magazine direction,
Plastic beauty that I never wanted,

As a Two-Spirit my soul is torn,
Paint your nails,
Go out on the town,
Breathe the fumes of environmental racism of the sorrow of smoke,
Numb the pain in a bar off Cass Avenue before gentrification,

The Androgynous Man in Brown Pants,
Yes he is me,

I am the worker from my past lifetimes,
Holding onto that bread that is stifling my soul,
I’ve released that bread to the sea,
From the top of the Tower Bridge in my dreams,

This time in 2018 I finally heal and I can eat pasta again,
No longer do plastic measuring cups define my existence,
No longer does the dorm room eating disorder smell haunt my existence,
No longer does the current of unknown generational grief haunt me with every turn I make,
No longer does the perfection of athleticism and “stars of track and field” win,

My soul is more free and so are we,
The relations,
Ancestors,
Community,

It may take 12 years to crumple up that trauma and toss into the fire,
The smoke cleanses out and out and out,

They were listening to our prayers.

Poem: Sobriety Creates Beauty

Floral designs extend from my fingers,
To circle around mitig,
To mitigong,
Up to migizi,
And back to nigig,

Floral designs from my feet,
Rooted like mitig into the Earth,
Pause,
Breath,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,
Zaagidewin,

Otter carries floral designs,
With the medicines,
Across the water,
To Anishinaabe,

The message,
In the teaching,
In the prophecy,
In the healing of our people,

The floral designs,
Travel between worlds,
To the ancestors,
To the ones to come,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,
Debwewin,

Anung,
Our spirits as big as the night sky,
With all that wisdom,
In your body,
My body,
The Anishinaabe body,

Empathy,
As the nibish that nigig feels,
Delicate,
Cleansing,
Fresh,
Sometimes,
You cry for others who can't feel,

Floral designs,
On baskets,
On clothes,
In dreams,

Recovery has created,
This beauty.

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Translations

Anung = Star
Debwewin = Truth
Migizi - Eagle
Mitig = Tree
Mitigong = Trees/Forest
Nibish = Water
Nigig = Otter
Zaagidewin = Love

Poem: Ode to the Conservative Woman Who Helped to Heal Me

The dim lights behind the curtain near the factories,
You are closer to the low hum and rumbles,
Closer to working class struggle of sounds that snuff out your dreams,
Sounds that silence your screams,
Sounds that perpetuate division,
Across the small town – rez town,

The door opened,
I greeted her and sat down,
She said she should couldn’t stop crying,
She showed me the book that she was reading,
The Verbally Abusive Relationship,
Expanded Third Edition,
How to recognize it and how to respond,

The dim light,
Curtains drawn,
Low hum working class sounds,
Mold and mildew smells,
How to respond? 

I too was frozen

She cried in her bedroom,
She said she couldn’t stop crying,
The love she felt,
It never went away,

I too was frozen

How to respond?
But to close the door,
To listen to the low hum,
Watch the steam rise from the factories at night,
The food bank corn,
The Kmart shoes,
The tears soiling sheets, 

She too was frozen

The conservative woman in Manistee, Michigan,
Aninshinaabe Aki,
Was this woman,
Was me,

The book I emphasized as resources to others,
I sat gazing out the window,
Crunched up in a ball,
Sipping tea,
Laying my asema on the snow,
Dim lights flickering,
Bad wiring for the working poor,
The factory smoke,
The low hum on the land, 

The door I shut numerous times,
The pinnacle of this moment,
I couldn’t stop crying,
She couldn’t stop crying,                                                

I was frozen,
She was frozen,
We were frozen,
But we were healing together.