There was only rice, and nothing else.
Almost nine months we stretched that sack, long enough to grow a full life inside, but not nearly enough to nourish it. When people ask me about the war, I often lie, but only by omission.
I strike the memories from my mind myself and tell them that mostly, it was just dreadfully boring.
Not as in uneventful.
But days upon weeks, upon months of sitting in cramped cages in silence. Filling the time by imagining all the ways I would die in horror.
Planning plans for every possible plight, then freezing when reality took hold.
We imagined a feast beyond compare, 20 courses each with spectacular detail and precision, with brines, and bastes, and marinades galore.
And that was only the first week.
By the end of our incubation our feast was a shared story of our desperation to dissociate, our narrative of hunger spelled out in our ever growing mantra. This near silent song we shared and built upon to give our days meaning and purpose, to give our bellies hope.
In all the horror that I witnessed, in all the torture I endured, it’s a plate of plain rice that now sends me spiraling.
I see maggots crawling in amongst the grains, extra protein cannot be refused, so I close my eyes and put the fork in my mouth.
Chew and swallow. Chew and swallow.
A forced act of survival.
The very act now a reminder that food is life, and without it…
Well, we saw what happens.
The emanciated bodies risking the brutality in search of scraps, finding nothing to feed their bellies but machetes. The barrel of a gun in their mouth nourishing a sweet release from the pain of starvation.
And now… the food sits rotting in my fridge, my belly and brain too confused to grasp that I no longer need to ration. My shelves lined with cans and preserves. My drawers overflowing with sustenance.
Yet I let the hunger draw out my day as a reminder. I let myself feel the pangs in the pit of my stomach before I gorge on every indulgence imaginable. Before I fill myself so full that purging becomes the only option and I’m left wanting to climb into that toilet to get back what was wasted. That I could live on just these expulsions alone for 2 and half weeks, if I only stretched it far enough.
Chew and swallow. Chew and swallow.
The most memorable lesson the war taught me is that 1/4 cup a day and a little hope is all I need to survive.
I remember the first time I heard that rat-a-tat-tat,
the gentle reminder that war had officially arrived in our neighbourhood.
I work to his warm embrace telling me we have to go.
We have to run. In my dream-like state, I didn’t understand. It’s fireworks. Celebration.
The only frame of reference in my mind, at the time, to justify this sound that anywhere else would be jubilation…. only now it’s death.
We ran and hid. We did. What was necessary to survive, even though, the guilt will always follow.
And now those sounds. Those sparks of light in the sky, send my mind, to the butchery on my doorstep. To the slashed bodies hacked to pieces by bands of cheering men. To those bound in tires and burned alive to joy, as ammo wasted into the air.
These are no longer celebrations.
These are sounds of death and despair.
Light up the sky. Fill me with fear.
But pity feeds on my own self-loathing. Losing that piece of myself, as they raped it from my body, tearing out my dignity along with my sanity. Making him watch in terror.
And I knew, I could no longer ignore, the International Community’s feign of care, an aggravation that only punished the already weak and vulnerable. Death for all with ailments. Your medications are locked as sea.
Cause see. That’s what embargo really means.
And if those blue berets were really there for peace,
Why did they stay, night after night, getting their piece,
From underage children traded by desperate parents for scraps of food, when costs soared to more than a month’s wage for a single fucking potato.
Not that there was work for money in the first place, and most were hand to
mouth even before, so that mouth went lacking, starving, as most died. And the ones we turned away, unable to share our scraps of sustenance with, their deaths are forever on my conscience.
We said ‘no’. We had to survive somehow.
But you see, dictators are men who don’t masquerade as our marionettes. The ones who want the power only for themselves and aren’t willing to follow orders from the mighty hand, who steals away resources, demands reparations for debts made by madmen, and claws back the basics of life as recompense.
But we’ll come in. Our white faces soaked in guilt just long enough to build a school without teachers or books in a place filled with unemployed builders. These structures made by hands who’ve never built before and are now paying for the privilege of “fixing” these poor folks who just haven’t yet found civilization. Feel good. You’re helping. You’re making a difference.
They toppled his empire because he wanted more than ten years. They wanted their puppet to be dictator instead. You see, allies can reign in terror for decades upon decades, genociding their own people. We’ll give them money. We’ll give them aid.
They are the shining example of advancement after all…
But say no.
And the blue berets, and the two red, white, and blues, they flew and they flew, the rebel fighters into the fortified capital, an ambush assault from the inside out, a coup so stealth, it seemed almost home-grown. As the snipers took them down, one by one. Bombed every resource into rubble, turned their backs and drove away as they butchered the thousands of women and children running from the bombs and guns to protect their puppet and the resources. Not the people.
So you see. There is no peace in peacekeeping.
There is no justice in actions after the fact. We need to be standing on our own two feet, using resources from our own two hands, not relying on the slavery and theft of others. We don’t need to rescue the world. We just need to stop using them as stepping stool to some sort of so-called civilization.
I suppose I should just shut up.
Close my mouth
and stop talking,
but I can’t.
It runs endlessly.
A stream of seemingly
interconnected words that ramble
I’m sorry for wasting your time.
Please listen to me wax on about
the way the sun turns and
how we are all destined to die.
I know you want to know more about that.
Truth is, I don’t want to hear it either,
but it fills the gaps in my day
and leaves my head freer to sleep
So I’ll continue,
and you’ll listen
and we’ll pretend to have this back and forth
all we’re really saying is
I don’t want to be alone.
I need to spout out the shit that’s rambling
along inside there
and if I don’t, I might explode
and you happen to be in the vicinity,
so here goes.
I will rant your ear off,
if you let me.
Perhaps it will bleed until the sun rises,
and you ache and plead with me to stop.
But more likely, you’ll sit
and laugh at my seriousness
and tell me, “that’s jokes”.
and I’ll tell you that I hate you,
but deep inside, I may really love you,
because you listen to me
like I’m the only thing in the world
worth listening to
and don’t judge my
The concept of blood quantum is one that confounds and angers me greatly. It’s like they are trying to affix a pedigree on us like dogs.
Cage us, tag us, track us and tell us what percentage we are. Now you qualify as “real”.
You are this much Indian. No more.
It doesn’t matter your history. It doesn’t matter your culture. Doesn’t matter at all. As if the world hasn’t been an intermixing, breeding muddle since the beginning of time. As if “pure” races of people actually even exist.
I hate when people ask about my ancestry in this way. How Native are you?
They will always tell you whether you are a “real” Native or not. Is my percentage high enough for you? Do I now qualify as Native?
My genealogical proximity a badge of honor. I’m not full blooded. A mutt really. And I don’t look Native, so they assume I’m that I’m not. Assume that the other percentages are higher. That I am not “really” Native. Just a little.
A mix of several traditions blended into this reality. Wendat-Ojibwa marriage results in a child that marries a child from a Wendat-Irish marriage, who marries a half Iroquois-half Romanian, who marries a full blooded Wendat and then that child marries an Englishman. The other side even more of a smattering of cultures. Each new generation a new mix of new Native blood. What quantum am I now? Am I enough? Do I now qualify as Native?
They take away our culture. They ripped it from us like we were shameful savages. Made us hate who we are, so much that we hide it. Fit in.
I remember my grandpa taking me for hikes in the forest behind our family home when I was a little girl. Telling me the stories of our ancestors in a hushed whisper in the woods like it was a dirty little secret and telling me to not repeat them. That his father told him these stories, but that we shouldn’t tell other people. “We are Irish. We are English. We are not Indian,” he told me.
I remember asking him why, and he looked to the ground, ashamed. He told me how they beat his family, how his aunts and uncles were taken away. He told me how in school they used to tease him and beat him and how they’ll tease me if they find out too. How I will be denied things because of it. How much harder it will be to get a job. How much harder life will be if the world knows. So, “We are Irish. We are English. We are not Indian.”
Burned into my brain. I repeated the lie to myself ad naseum. We are not good enough. We have to lie.
Just putting words to page, as they come.
It’s 8:26 am on a Saturday
and I sit
smoking a joint
and contemplating the world
that this world is not lost,
spun too far downstream
to ever find its way back
endless waterfalls dragging it down
down, and the
keeping it from edging to the
side for a gasp of air.
so full of hate,
is it now impossible to
And the only way
is to expand
It’s not impossible.
But we can’t see it
because we are soo
blinded by the past
by the scars left on our systems
we can’t escape.
We want to love.
We all want love.
But our instinct
of fear takes over.
We can’t love
what we don’t know
because our history has
She called me ‘ma’am’ and gave up her seat.
Simply because I look white.
I was young
and full of life.
She was old
and could barely stand
on her own two feet.
Why would I sit
when it goes against everything
that is right,
everything I was ever taught,
when she is the one who
should be sitting,
when she is the one who deserves the seat
The next day, it happened again.
A group of ladies
and they hemmed and hawed
like I was the Queen of England
run a marathon
across the desert
to get to
this very waiting room.
They treated me like I was deserving
Simply because of my skin.
It made me feel ashamed.
That I should apologize
it ever to have
crossed their minds
to get up.
For the system that brought
them to that
Now I didn’t tell them my skin
is actually a reddish mix, not white
a heritage full of hate and
subordination in our own country
beat out of us
until we were soo ashamed
to even say who we were,
so we lied
and hid our past away
trying so hard to
and look white
and be white
to get ahead.
Not that it would have
because that hardened,
has formed since
when they were told
they weren’t good enough
simply because the colour of their skin
the truth beaten out
through centuries of
I wanted to apologize
And I cry
why that shade,
that pigmentation difference
of such a slight
ever even mattered.
That when explorers of
lore went on their expeditions
for goods and gold and all the riches
they could muster
to pouffe up
monarchies of greed
and wealth and
that depended upon
the backs of others,
that they saw only
a sub-class of human
and not an extension
This blood is forever burned upon
all our souls.
We dine on it
like a slow poison
waiting to fill our brain
Our hearts closed to
the love and
the constant barrage
doubt and hate
that we don’t even
see it as racism
It’s just the way it is.
Sometimes life goes ways
you wish it wouldn’t.
Sometimes you get
and from the outside
like flipping the
pages on a glossy magazine.
It looks good, but it’s all staged
and behind the scenes
Sometimes randomness takes over.
Sometimes coincidence is your best friend.
Time is a bitch that
Sucks us dry
and spits us out
without tasting us.
Cruel. Tragic. Leaves us wanting.