Fight the Power

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I’ve known rivers:

I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the

flow of human blood in human veins.

 

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

 

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

We Lived Happily during the War

And when they bombed other people’s houses, we

 

protested

but not enough, we opposed them but not

 

enough. I was

in my bed, around my bed America

 

was falling: invisible house by invisible house by invisible house —

 

I took a chair outside and watched the sun.

 

In the sixth month

of a disastrous reign in the house of money

 

in the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,

our great country of money, we (forgive us)

Leonardo DiCaprio

My ex-boyfriend got measurably more attractive

and all I got was a dad bod.

Leonardo DiCaprio has a dad bod,

and for whatever reason this is reassuring to me.

Leonardo DiCaprio finally one an Oscar

for his lead role in The Revenant.

Leonardo DiCaprio was almost killed by a bear

in said movie. But alas, he wasn’t.

I Have yet to see The Revenant,

but only because there ain’t nothing special

about a settler who defies death

while NDNs drop like flies around him.

from Exhibits from the American Water Museum

99.

From an original rock painting in Topock, Arizona, now digitized on a

wall-mounted monitor:

 

Before this city, the Creator pressed his staff

into the earth, and the earth opened—

 

it wasn’t a wound, it was joy—joy!—!

Out of this opening leaped earth’s most radical bloom: our people—

 

we blossoms from the original body: water,

flowering and flowing until it became itself, and we, us:

                                              River. Body.

 

The Dictator's Message

The Dictator’s Message

 

O poets

return,

we have swept

your homeland clean

of thorns and splinters

 

O writers

return,

to make a record of your works

we have ordered paper from all over the world

 

O mothers

return,

we have made all the prisons

into schools and universities

 

O young people

return,

and for your country’s future

lay a new foundation

 

O painters

return,

and on war’s blood-soaked walls

Jesse's Farm

We’re driving and the radio says mass marine extinctions within a

generation. No silence, no sirens — an unflustered inflection, then

stock markets, cryptic as Latin mass. I force myself: the interval

between a mother and her child — not enough for refuge in numerics,

reckoning we’ll be old or gone. Her in my rear-view mirror when I skew

it. Undoing velcro:  velours crochet — the maker plucked burrs from

his sweater, studied them under a microscope. There’s a microscope

I inherited, embedded in a fake snakeskin case. Ravaged scales,

From all you can is the best you can

i once shoved my foot through glass

getting to know my own anger

 

its patches of stupid

bloody love

 

stress is just a socially acceptable

word for fear

 

i’m ashamed of feeling too much

 

river edges like a cut

of laughter

 

left too long in the sun, a bloated

syringe of time between our kneecaps

 

i know you want

the piece of the story

 

that is clandestine

but i won’t give it to you

 

For You Shall Be Called to Account

The ancestors of everyone I’ve let into my body

are gathered in a small room with one window,

no lights. Yes, the room is crowded. Yes, there

are no chairs. Yes, they are talking. Why are we

here, says the Nazi resister. Where are the chairs,

says the Viking (no horns). Where is the light, say

the people with their new French name hung

around their necks heavy like a long black cross.

Here, says the grand wizard, and a long white

Other

1

 

Men prefer an island

With its beginning ended:

Undertones of waves

Trees overbended.

 

Men prefer a road

Circling, shell-like

Convex and fossiled

Forever winding inward.

 

Men prefer a woman

Limpid in sunlight

Held as a shell

On a sheltering island…

 

Men prefer an island.

 

2

 

But I am mainland

O I range

From upper country to inner core:

From sageland, brushland, marshland

The First Day

When I was five I was put on a bus

and sent to Catholic school

not unlike my mother who was five

when she was put on a train

and sent to residential school,

both feeling that gut feeling

that this was not going to be

a place we would like.

 

My parents told

my older sister

to watch over me

but she had long ago

grown to not like me,

let alone protect me.

 

As we waited to go in

that first morning

a group of boys decided

Start here: