Here is a link to a poetry collection I wrote. It won the Canadian Aboriginal Writing Challenge:
It was also published in Canada’s History Magazine:
And here is the Full Text Version:
little black kitty
side of the road puss
patch of grey grass beside the highway
cars whizzing paaast
looking lost and fragile
a few miles down the road
a hawk swirls on draughts of air
predatory eye scanning the fields
a birds gotta eat
Archival Notes to Treaty#3
– brown stain on p. located in the
bottom left corner
– left edges of sheets torn
– 6 holes in the top left corner of
each sheet, possibly used for binding
– red wax stains on top left corner of p.
Yellowed B&W photo
Leslie’s not wearing gloves
they’re lying in the foreground on the snow
A cigarette perched between his lips
Wicked evil grin
Agnes is wearing a skirt
She must be freezing
Geez these kids!
Bob is in a long coat
wearing his leather gloves
on the back
written in blue ink
my grandmother has written
Leslie, Agnes, and Bobby
My Bro’s and Sis
Bob Drown Last Spring
“I Dare you to say this to an Indian person to their face!”
– written on the margins of a 1st year
Canadian Studies student’s essay
– “Democracy comes from here!
the Haudenoshaunee invented it;
corn, beans, squash, tomatoes, tobacco, chocolate
it all comes from here!
So don’t call Native People
‘savages running wild in the prairies ‘!”
– “I didn’t mean to offend you,
I actually just got that out of a book”
-“Don’t tell me that!
that’s even worse!
that’s plagiarism and you plagiarized poorly”
The Grocery Store Stand-off
They were in a store, shopping. When it came time to pay, Lilas pulled out her status card for the PST exemption, a small but helpful reduction in price. Every little bit helped. The man frowned, “I’m sorry Ma’m, but we don’t accept those here”. Her face darkened, like the shadow of a storm cloud passing over-head.
Uh-oh, he’s in for it now, I thought. But instead of getting angry, or arguing with him or pointing out to the man that it was a Treaty Right and not up for discussion, she simply compressed her lips into a thin line and walked out of the store. She spent the rest of the day on the phone, making calls:
“Hello, Marie-Anne. This is Lilas . . . “
“Hello, Josephine. It’s Lilas calling . . .”
At 7:00, later that evening, a horde of Anishinaabe women descended upon the store that wouldn’t accept Status Cards for PST exemption. They loaded up their carts, filling them to the brim with products and household items, which their families used on a regular basis.
The angry phalanx of women advanced upon the checkout counter with military precision, fully prepared to make their purchases with Lilas in the lead. If they had had tails, they would have all been swishing. When it came time to pay, Lilas pulled out her status card for the PST exemption.
The man frowned, “I’m sorry Ma’m, but we don’t accept those here”.
The corners of her mouth turned up in a small smile as she turned on her heel and walked out of the store with a run-way model swagger, the angry phalanx of Anishinaabe women followed her, leaving their brimming carts standing there, ready for re-shelving.
Baby Rabbit squished at the side of the road
The crows take turns pecking at it
And the Mother Rabbit sits on the curb
Chasing them away
Still trying to protect it
Archival Notes to the Shebandowan Adhesion to Treaty#3
– blue stain on p.
– left edges torn and pieces missing
– edges dirty
– brown stain on p.  near the top
– on the top of p. is written
“Treaty 133 Indian office” which is
an incorrect number
– 6 holes in the top left corner
probably used for binding
sitting in my grandmother’s living room
blue walls painted pink
“What’s her name?” my grandma asks.
“I don’t know, I don’t recognize her”, I say.
–Old black and white movie on t.v.–
“I forget. I think she’s dead”
“I don’t recognize her”
–Cowboys and Indians–
“Oh, what’s her name?” brow furrowed in thought
–Cowboys start shooting Indians–
“He just shot that guy!” I say surprised.
“Barbara . . . Barbara Stanwick” grandma remembers.
“they’re shooting all the Indians” I say,
my mom pokes her head in the doorway as she goes by
“Oh! Barbara Stanwick!” she says.
I laugh and then impersonate first my grandmother
And then my mom: “Oh what’s her name? / Oh! Barbara Stanwick!”
Blue walls painted pink.
When she moved in, my old room became her living room transplanted.
On screen Barbara Stanwick gets shot.
“Oh what’s his name? I think he’s dead too!” my grandma says.
I don’t recognize him
After the funeral
I meet cousin David
he has numbers on his arm
He tells me the story
of how he watched
he tells me
–the uncle I am named for–
he tried to escape
the concentration camp
they hung him by the neck
he was eighteen years old
Early Sunday Morning
We are woken up early Sunday morning
to find my Mom’s Blue Pontiac Sunfire
parked on top of the neighbours’ lawn
Half-on-top of the hedge
and sitting at a crazy angle to the road
A man is bleeding
Holding a dirty rag to his slashed hand
He looks shook up
The cop takes one look at my brother,
One look at the Blue Pontiac Sunfire,
and one look at the man who is bleeding.
“How fast were you travelling”,
the cop asks my brother,
“when you hit the gentleman’s car?”
“What!” my brother asks, incredulous.
“I was asleep in my bed,
and my car was parked,
when the gentleman hit my car.”
Sexy little mountain stream Ziibiin gtchi-zoshkojiiwan bishigwotis
Little stream on the mountain top Ziibiin kakiiweing ogidaabik
you are the sexiest little stream I’ve ever seen ngii-waabma gii-mno-na-gooziinh Gbishigwotise ziibiin
you taste like rocks and melted snow mno-pogun dgo-azhaabik minwa zoogpo-aaboo
when I kneel down to put my lips into you nwii-saandiweing nshining ndoonim gbiinj’iing
how you even exist, I do not know gbemaadizi na?, Gaawiin kikendizi
It’s like 35 below, with the wind-chill niis’iing nsindimaa-shi-naanin, gsinaa gojing, ii’inge giikaach onji-noodin
It’s a miracle that you aren’t completely frozen solid gmaankanendam gishkawaagojii
you rock my world and fill my dreams gbaapagishkaa nakiim, minwa gbazhidebazh nbawaajiganim
with your guardian bird-spirit with hollow bones gzhimaagnish bineshii- jiibay okanag-bizhizhigo
drinking, diving, trickling home minikwewin, googii, bekaadizi-miigwan waaka-igan
You are the sexiest little living thing I’ve seen. Ngii-waabma gii-mno-na-gooziinh
you and your crackling stream minwa gzhiishiiganim zibi
my sexy little mountain stream nmno-na-gooziinh ogidaabik ziibiinh
How To Say ‘Sexy’ In Ojibway
Let me tell you
It was hard
Trying to translate the poem “Sexy Little Mountain Stream”
asking my Grandma
how do you say ‘Sexy’ in Ojibwa?
Pecking around the edges
Feeding off the flowing steel river of metal death
Why let good meat go to waste?
Sitting out in the raw-meat sun.
Side of the road tragedy
Mamma Rabbit charging at them,
forcing them to take to the air
But not for long
They bide their time,
She can’t stay awake forever.
Baby Rabbit’s not going anywhere
The Camera’s Red Glare
is this what it takes
to get justice
someone has to get killed
for people to pay attention
someone has to die
so people can ask
who’s fault is this?
Why did this happen?
Quiet deaths don’t count
drugs, alcohol, diabetes
toxic polluted fish
while ten feet under water
people used to sit
maybe if I tell
the Scandalous Story
people will sit up and listen
and say: shame, shame on you
flooding those Indians
out of their homes
A Spell To Defeat Your Enemies
The recipe called for a drop of Irish blood
“Where’r ya gunna get a drop of Irish blood?”
“Give me your arm”
“Come on”, he said holding a pin that he was planning to stab me with.
“No, I’m not even Irish”
“I know you are, you told me you were part Irish on your mother’s father’s side”.
“Yeah, but a drop of Irish blood’s all I got, if I give you that I won’t have any Irish
“Don’t be ridiculous, all your blood’s Irish, or at least some part of it. Now give it to
me”, he said holding out his hand.
“Oowh!” he yelped.
“Stop being such a baby”
Blue jay sits in the tree
“A Crow! A Crow! A Crow! A Crow!
Sounding the alarm
Piece of grass in his mouth
All he was doing was building his nest
I’ve seen them
Attacking other bird’s nests
They Eat Babies
I Found a baby bird on the ground once
Thirty of them or more
attacking a crow
Downtown waiting for Uncle Gerry
Never met him before
My brother goes to get a Slushi,
I sit waiting for a few minutes
Realize I don’t know what Gerry looks like
Old army photo of him as a young man sitting on our mantle
Stars and Stripes
“Who’s that Chinese guy?”
I remember a childhood friend asking me once
He’s not Chinese
He went AWOL during the war and can’t go back into the United States
But what does he look like now?
Q: what does Gerry look like
I text message my brother
rubber necking around
A: he kinda looks like shawn but older
Shawn Shawn, hmmm, okay (our older brother)
That Indian guy over there could be Gerry
He keeps looking at me, why else would he be sitting there?
He looks like he’s waiting. It must be Gerry.
I go over.
“Are you Gerry?” I ask
“Why?” he says, and laughs.
“Do you owe him money or something?”
“Uh, no” I say,
“I’m supposed to meet my Uncle here”
“There’s lots’ ah guys look like me in-town now,
the AFN is voting in a new Chief!”
I go sit back down on my concrete block.
my brother comes back with his Slushi
“is he here yet?
Nezaadiikaang/ Place of the Poplars
the water is RED like BLOOD
Coca-Cola FIZZ Hydrogen Chloride
Some say it has always been that COLOUR
Others say that it is the high IRON content
Or the Iron-Ore MINE Under Steep Rock Lake
(During the height of WWII
My father was fleeing Poland
while under the WAR MEASURES ACT
RESOURCES were being EXTRACTED) some say it is the DAMNS
the DAWSON Damn came FIRST
the BACKUS Damn came SECOND
the ONTARIO Hydro Damn came THIRD
we are 3x damned
it raised the water level of the lake
so that the trees were standing in water
Occasionally used for tanning leather
Due to their high Tannic Acid Content
Staining the water
My mom tells me
“has the same salinity
as sea-water” Maybe the place stained itself
about the up-coming Elders Gathering.
What makes an Elder? Is it merely age, or
something more? And whether or not
the age should be lowered
in-line with Anishinaabe life expectancy
about what should be done
with the money from the Flood Claim
Compensation. Should it be divided up
amongst the membership, or
should the chief and council,
(with membership input),
decide how the money is spent,
and can they be trusted?
This issue divides us.
All the money,
couldn’t put us back together.
about who is sleeping with whom,
a white man in a position of power.
mixed blood “white children” running around the reserve
I’ve seen your grandchildren,
You’re one to talk.
Your grand-kids are just as pale as mine.
They have just as much a right to be here
Internal/external racism, fear, insecurity. 90210 on speed.
In our community, no one feels like they belong
Someone else, always knows more than you do
out of the loop
Caution: Hidden Danger
Someone once told me
That it was the strangest lake
Under the water
That they had ever seen
Better not to go out on the water
If you don’t know your way around
The lake is filled with un-foreseen hazards
Shallow areas that used to be islands
Sand bars in unexpected places
Better not to bottom-out
At thirty kilometers per hour
that’s what rabbits call us,
they call us