urban NDNs in the DTES

had a dozen foster parents

                                   tell me to run from my mother’s truth

                                   the track marks up her arm,

                                   shy away from the streets

                                                                           they said ate her alive.


                            wasn’t until i had rewilded

                                   unto the very streets

                                          that i recognized that it kept her alive.


harm came from

              the môniyâw men

                     lurking in the alleys asking for something more

(like ligament or limb)

              wrap their fleshy

                      digits around ikwe throat

squeeze life like pressing

                      orange for juice.


most of my mom’s sisters are dead

                                                         like her too now—

                                            caught in the crosshairs

                                                    of murdered or missing;

their children are working

             & i make sure to say hello to my cousins,

                          we all picked up our mothers’

                          work eventually.


i have become a regular at the funeral parlour on hastings.

burying parent & child every other week.


don’t have tears left once home, save them

                                                                                   for longer nights

remember there are NDN children

who need to eat still.


i ran onto main and hastings

cried out in anguish, this place called cold

                                                     called heartless

                                                     called monster & maw

was never the culprit & the blame was never to be

my mother’s or her sisters’—

                                    rather machines of genocide

                                                      placed here by

                                                      the illegal government voted in

                                                      by our now–neighbours.


i’ve found the truth:

              the mythos was fabricated;

& there will always be

funerals to attend,

NDN children to feed. 

Bibliographical info

“urban NDNs in the DTES” by jaye simpson from it was never going to be okay, Nightwood Editions, 2020, www.nightwoodeditions.com 

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