el Jones I have a hard time seeing #BlackLivesMatter #poem

White space between pockets of lines are mine, so I (and others) can read it easier.

I have a hard time seeing justice as a reserve without a well
But then we bring its children a smudge kit in their cell

Don’t we wonder what will happen when there’s foster kids living in hotels
Or black children in the principal’s office 5 minutes past the bell
Because they never learned to read and they fell between the gaps
We start with zero tolerance by the time they’re done taking naps

Is it justice when some people start the race ahead by laps
In a country where we can’t even guarantee clean water from the taps
And there’s indigenous land under every prison on the map
And as you move up from minimum to medium to max
It’s a funny thing in Canada how the skin just gets more black

And that lack of access to parole that is kind of like a tax
A couple years of extra sentence that they tack on to our backs
And there’s those weapons laws they pass that they claim are for the gangs
While there’s white supremacists in prisons with KKK upon their hands
And there’s guards who give them daps

And the police can gun down teenagers and never hit the stand
I won’t even get into asking why we never charge the banks
But should anyone be sent to where they have to carry shanks

Eljoneslyrics.wordpress.com

 

————————————————————

Full poem
I know a man who stabbed a man inside and got sent off to the SHU
But he says when somebody comes after you then what else do you do
I don’t believe that he’s a monster but that’s what the system say
And now he’s doing double life and might not see the light of day
And when you’re 15 and your family teaches you to sell crack
Well is there any coming back so you grow to manhood in the max
And we define entire lives by a person’s worst acts
So we just list their various crimes and believe we have the facts
So here’s another story of another lost defendant
He’s 20 years old and he’s 8 years into his sentence
Brought over to the prison from juvenile detention
Sometimes children in this country they just don’t deserve a mention
Until they commit a crime and then suddenly we pay attention
There are people in society we label as disposable
When you’re already doing time shouldn’t be the first time you’re diagnosable
And so we put them in a prison where at least they are controllable
And I suppose it isn’t notable and no one gets emotional
Unless we find out they are innocent then maybe humanity’s negotiable
But for the rest, you did the crime so your humanity’s ignored
And men are in so long they don’t know how to use a door
And men are in so long they’ve never heard of internet explorer
That’s what happens when you’re black when you’re indigenous and poor
When you’re considered to be a criminal before you’re even born
I get an incoherent call at 3 o clock in the morning.
The same guy who called me crying to report he was assaulted
He says he’s locked up in his room surrounded by guns and knives
If they come to take him back it’s either his or their lives
He says ever since he left the prison he’s been numbing with a high
But people say to close his mouth because it doesn’t happen to real guys
I suppose it’s ironic he’s from the same reserve as Donald Marshall
So it seems to me that justice there was only ever partial
When we look back at that case and say those 11 years were awful
But for everybody else the same suffering is lawful
I’ve heard so many tragic stories I could almost tick off a box
But still we call it justice when the prison doors are locked
We believe that punishment comes to the people who deserve it
But punishment mostly comes to the people who can’t swerve it
Can’t avoid it, can’t employ it, can’t voice it, can’t afford it
And then once you go to prison whatever happens can’t report it
If you can’t write how can you file Roebothams or habeus corpus
So we talk about wrongful but where are the rightful convictions?
Sure there’s Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, Robert Picton
But what about the man on his 50th charge of shoplifting
When it’s obvious to everyone the problem is addiction
And the truth and reconciliation commission can only be a fiction
As long as indigenous people out west are still filling up the prisons
I have a hard time seeing justice as a reserve without a well
But then we bring its children a smudge kit in their cell
Don’t we wonder what will happen when there’s foster kids living in hotels
Or black children in the principal’s office 5 minutes past the bell
Because they never learned to read and they fell between the gaps
We start with zero tolerance by the time they’re done taking naps
Is it justice when some people start the race ahead by laps
In a country where we can’t even guarantee clean water from the taps
And there’s indigenous land under every prison on the map
And as you move up from minimum to medium to max
It’s a funny thing in Canada how the skin just gets more black
And that lack of access to parole that is kind of like a tax
A couple years of extra sentence that they tack on to our backs
And there’s those weapons laws they pass that they claim are for the gangs
While there’s white supremacists in prisons with KKK upon their hands
And there’s guards who give them daps
And the police can gun down teenagers and never hit the stand
I won’t even get into asking why we never charge the banks
But should anyone be sent to where they have to carry shanks
I watch police roll into Ferguson with snipers riding tanks
I don’t think you have to not have done it for justice to be miscarried
When I’ve known men so long in prison that their babies now are married
Hell I’ve known men so long in prison that they first meet their son out on the range
And I don’t know that it is justice if we decide you can never change
And I don’t know that it’s justice when there’s men inside a cage
And I don’t know that it is justice if the scales will never budge
And men in prison with so much legal knowledge they could be a judge
And maybe they could have gone in that direction if they only got a nudge
And it’s true that I’ve known men who did a killing for a grudge
But does three seconds of your life make you only human sludge
And let’s not talk about the corporations that profit off it all
Like the predatory phone companies gouging prisoners for a call
Women going broke when their man’s conviction’s not their fault
I could talk about the scanners and how many hits are false
And how families are turned away after driving up for hours
Cause I dont know that it is justice when it’s so easy to abuse powers
I could talk to you for days and it would all be the same ruin
And I know men who did their time in prison with Assoun
And they’ll never be set free to share their voice in these rooms
And I know lawyers, guards and judges who do their best to change the tune
but in a society that’s broken it’s like reaching for the moon
And I confess I once believed that every person could be saved
And then it took a couple of years and it’s true that I got played
And I had to face that there’s some people who seem to always dig a grave
But I still don’t believe that they deserve solitary just because they misbehaved
And I still believe we can do better and that we have to find a way
And I’d still rather know I tried even if it means I failed
Because it will never be justice while the our solution still is jail
So from people doing time in Kent down to people in Renous
From people in the county up to people in the SHU
If that was your life story, what do you think you’d do?

 

 

 

 

 

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#BlackHistoryMonth Walking Down Park by Nikki Giovanni #iNeedFeminismBecause

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 10.52.07 PM

Walking Down Park

BY NIKKI GIOVANNI

walking down park
amsterdam
or columbus do you ever stop
to think what it looked like
before it was an avenue
did you ever stop to think
what you walked
before you rode
subways to the stock
exchange (we can’t be on
the stock exchange
we are the stock
exchanged)
.
did you ever maybe wonder
what grass was like before
they rolled it
into a ball and called
it central park
where syphilitic dogs
and their two-legged tubercular
masters fertilize
the corners and side-walks
ever want to know what would happen
if your life could be fertilized
by a love thought
from a loved one
who loves you
 .
ever look south
on a clear day and not see
time’s squares but see
tall Birch trees with sycamores
touching hands
and see gazelles running playfully
after the lions
ever hear the antelope bark
from the third floor apartment
 .
ever, did you ever, sit down
and wonder about what freedom’s freedom
would bring
it’s so easy to be free
you start by loving yourself
then those who look like you
all else will come
naturally
 .
ever wonder why
so much asphalt was laid
in so little space
probably so we would forget
the Iroquois, Algonquin
and Mohicans who could caress
the earth
 .
ever think what Harlem would be
like if our herbs and roots and elephant ears
grew sending
a cacophony of sound to us
the parrot parroting black is beautiful black is beautiful
owls sending out whooooo’s making love …
and me and you just sitting in the sun trying
to find a way to get a banana tree from one of the monkeys
koala bears in the trees laughing at our listlessness
 .
ever think its possible
for us to be
happy
 .
.

Nikki Giovanni, “Walking Down Park” from The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni. Copyright © 1996 by Nikki Giovanni. Used with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003)

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.

From: The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
NEW and USED: Abebooks.com The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry
NEW at independent bookstores: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780195125634

#Wintersolstice Brittle World by Lew Sarett #snow

matt-anderson-commercial-fine-art-landscape-gallery-decor2009_01_10_164328_Final

Photo by Matt Anderson

Brittle World

Brittel the snow on the gables,
The sleet-hung pines, the night
Sprinkled with stars that quiver
Over the waste of white.

Fragile the earth in the moonlight,
The glassy sheet of lake;
If I tapped it with a hammer,
The brittle world would break.

Lew Sarett in All the Silver Pennies, ed. Blanche Jenning Thompson

seventeenth-century-snow-witch-house.jpg

Photo by Daseger. “Witch House” or the Jonathan Corwin House in Salem.

Poetry foundation: “Poet, lecturer, and teacher Lew Sarett was born Lew Saretsky in Chicago to parents who immigrated from Poland and Lithuania.

He was educated at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Beloit College, Harvard Law School, and the University of Illinois Law School.

Sarett became interested in nature and American Indian culture and lore at an early age, and these interests are clearly reflected in his life and in his poetry.

[…] lived among the Chippewa Indians of the Lake Superior region, and was adopted by them and given the name Lone Caribou.”

Read more here at the Poetry Foundation!

Four Little Foxes
by Lew Sarett

Speak gently, Spring, and make no sudden sound
for in my windy valley yesterday I found
New born foxes squirming on the ground
Speak gently.

Walk softly, March, forbear the bitter blow,
Her feet within a trap, her blood upon the snow,
The four little foxes saw their mother go
Walk softly.

Go lightly, Spring, oh give them no alarm;
When I covered them with boughs to shelter them from harm
The thin blue foxes suckled at my arm
Go Lightly.

Step softly, March, with your rampant hurricane
Nuzzling one another and whimp’ring with pain,
The new little foxes are shiv’ring in the rain
Step softly.

Song Cycle of the Moon Bone, Wonguri-Mandjigai people. #nativelivesmatter #LifeLivedLikeaStory 1/3

Song Cycle of the Moon Bone

…The prawn is there, at the place of the Dugong, digging out mud with its claws
The hard-shelled prawn living there in the water, making soft little noises.

They are sitting about the camp, among the branches, along the
.        back of the camp;
sitting along in lines in the camp, they’re in the shade of the paperbark
.        trees:
sitting along in a line, like the new white spreading clouds;
In the shade of the paperbarks, they’re sitting like resting clouds.
People of the clouds, living there like the mist; like the mist sitting
.        resting with arms on knees,
In here towards the shade, in this Place, in the shadow of paperbarks.
Sitting there in rows, those Wonguri-Mandjigai people, paperbarks
.        along like a cloud.
Living on cycad-nut bread; sitting there with white-stained fingers,
Sitting in there resting, those people of the Sandfly clan…
Sitting there like mist, at that place of the Dugong… And of the
.        Dugongs Entrails…
Sitting resting there in the place of the Dugong…
In the place of the Moonlight Clay Pans, and at the place of the
.        Dugong…
There at that Dugong place they are sitting all along.

The prawn is there, at the place of the Dugong, digging out mud
.        with its claws…
The hard-shelled prawn living there in the water, making soft little
.        noises.
It burrows into the mud and casts it aside, among the lilies…
Throwing aside the mud, with soft little noises…
Digging out mud with its claws at the place of the Dugong, the place
.        of the Dugong’s Tail…
Calling the bone bukalili, The catfish bukalili, the frog bukalili, the
.        sacred tree bukalili,
The prawn is burrowing, coming up, throwing aside the mud, and
.        digging…
Climbing up on to the Lotus plants and onto their pods…

(Note from book: bukalili mans sacred epithet, power name)

 

USED: The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse at Abebooks!
chosen by Les A. Murray

“How the World Began!”: the Story of Crow. Indigenous creation story as told by Angela Sidney! #NativeLivesMatter

The Story of Crow.

(This poem starts with a daughter so precious that her parents did not want to lose her, ao they protected her and even though many men wanted her hand in marriage, they said she was too good for them. They all waited, I imagine, for the right man. She is referred to as ‘that girl.’)

Crow wanted to be born— he wants to make the world!

So he made himself into a pine needle.
A slave always brings water to that girl and one time he gets water
.   with a pine needle in it.
She turns it down— make him get freshwater.
Again he brings it. Again a pine needle is there.
Four times he brings water and each time it’s there.
Finally she just give up— She spit that pine needle out and drink the
.   water.
But it blew into her mouth and she swallowed it.
Soon the girl is pregnant.

Her mother and daddy are mad.
Her mother asks, “Who’s that father?”

“No, I never knew a man,” she told her mother.

That baby starts to grow fast.
That girl’s father had the sun, moon, stars, daylight hanging in his
.   house.
He’s the only one that has them.
The world was all dark, all the time.
The child begged for them to play with.

Finally, the father gives his grandchild the sun to play with.
He rolls it around, plays with it, laughs, has lots of fun.
Then he rolls it to the door and out it goes!
“Oh!” he cries. He just pretends.
He cries because that sun is lost.

“Give me the moon to play with.”

They say no at first— like now, if a baby asks for the sun or moon you
.   say,
“That’s your grandfather’s fire.”

Finally, they gave it to him.

One by one they gave him the sun, moon, stars, daylight—
He loses them all.

“Where does she get the child from? He loses everything!”
That’s what her father says.

Then Crow disappears.
He has to things with him in the box.
He walks around— comes to a river.
Lots of animals there— fox, wolf, wolverine, mink, rabbit.
Everybody’s fishing…
That time animals all talk like people talk now—
The world is dark.

“Give me fish,” Crow says.
No one pay any attention.
“Give me fish or I’ll bring daylight!”
They laugh at him.

He’s holding a box… starts to open it and lets one ray out.
Then they pay attention!
He opens that books a bit more—they are scared!
Finally he opens that daylight box and threw it out.
Those animals scatter!
They hide in the bush and turn into animals like now.
Then the sun, moon, stars, and daylight come out.

“Go to the skies,” Crow says.
“Now no man owns it— it will be for everybody.”

He’s right, what he says that Crow.

After Crow made the world, he saw that sea lion owned the only island
. in the world.
The rest was water— he’s the only one with land.
The whole place was ocean!
Crawl rests on a piece of log— he’s tired.
He sees see lion with that little island just for himself.
He wants some land to so he stole that sea lion’s kid.

“Give me back that kid!” said sea lion.

“Give me beach, some sand,” says Crow.

So sea lion gave him sand.
Crow threw that sand around the world.
“Be World,” he told it. And it became the world.

After that, he walks around, flies around all alone.
He’s tired— he’s lonely— he needs people.
He took poplar tree bark. You know how it’s thick?
He carved it and then he breathed into i.

“Live!” he said, and he made a person.
He made Crow and Wolf to too.
At first they can’t talk to each other—
Crow man and woman are shy with each other— look away.
Wolf the same way too.

“This is no good,” he said. So we change that.
He made Crow man sit with Wolf woman.
And he made Wolf Man sit with Crow woman.
So Crow must marry Wolf and Wolf must marry Crow.

That’s how the world began.
.
.

“You tell what you know.
The way I tell stories is what I know.”

Angela Sidney.

.

.

As told by Angela Sidney in “Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders.” By Julie Cruikshank, p. 42.

Library in Toronto: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM521988&R=521988

Order online:
– NEW: http://www.ubcpress.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=444 or at http://www.indiebound.org
– USED: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?sts=t&tn=Life+Lived+Like+a+Story

‪#‎IndigenousLivesMatter‬ ‪#‎WinterSolstice‬ ‪#‎WinterSolsticebonfire‬ ‪#‎AmINext‬

.

Start of story:
“One time there was a girl whose daddy is a very high man.
They kept her in her bedroom all the time—
Men try to marry her all the time, but they say no, she’s too good.”

Creation: God and the animals look after the people. Indigenous poem and story!

http://www.rattle.com/poetry/print/10s/i14/ OUT of print, indigenous poets.

Native Creation Story. By Phil Lane as told by Richard Wagamese. I love these lines of encouragement and responsibility- a legal contract of sorts between God and the Animal People.

“You will need to be more than brothers and sisters, you will need to be his teachers.”

And the Creator thinks all their ideas are good and still wants to find another place. The smallest of the Animal People and not very powerful, the mole, has the best idea– this is a legal tradition whereby not only judges and politicians create the laws, but the least powerful are acknowledged, welcomed and show they have good ideas.

.

God and the Animal People look after a new creature.

IN THE TIME BEFORE there were human beings on Earth, the Creator called a great meeting of the Animal People.

During that period of the world’s history, the Animal People lived harmoniously with one another and could speak to the Creator with one mind. They were very curious about the reason for the gathering. When they had all assembled together, the Creator spoke.

“I am sending a strange new creature to live among you,” he told the Animal People. “He is to be called Man and he is to be your brother.

“But unlike you he will have no fur on his body, will walk on two legs and will not be able to speak with you. Because of this he will need your help in order to survive and become who I am creating him to be. You will need to be more than brothers and sisters, you will need to be his teachers.

“Man will not be like you. He will not come into the world like you. He will not be born knowing and understanding who and what he is. He will have to search for that. And it is in the search that he will find himself.

“He will also have a tremendous gift that you do not have. He will have the ability to dream. With this ability he will be able to invent great things and because of this he will move further and further away from you and will need your help even more when this happens.

“But to help him I am going to send him out into the world with one very special gift. I am going to give him the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice. But like his identity it must be a search, because if he finds this knowledge too easily he will take it for granted. So I am going to hide it and I need your help to find a good hiding-place. That is why I have called you here.”

A great murmur ran through the crowd of Animal People. They were excited at the prospect of welcoming a new creature into the world and they were honoured by the Creator’s request for their help. This was truly an important day.

One by one the Animal People came forward with suggestions of where the Creator should hide the gift of knowledge of Truth and Justice.

“Give it to me, my Creator,” said the Buffalo, “and I will carry it on my hump to the very centre of the plains and bury it there.”

“A good idea, my brother,” the Creator said, “but it is destined that Man should cover most of the world and he would find it there too easily and take it for granted.”

“Then give it to me,” said the Salmon, “and I will carry it in my mouth to the deepest part of the ocean and I will hide it there.”

“Another excellent idea,” said the Creator, “but it is destined that with his power to dream, Man will invent a device that will carry him there and he would find it too easily and take it for granted.”

“Then I will take it,” said the Eagle, “and carry it in my talons and fly to the very face of the Moon and hide it there.”

“No, my brother,” said the Creator, “even there he would find it too easily because Man will one day travel there as well.”

Animal after animal came forward with marvellous suggestions on where to hide this precious gift, and one by one the Creator turned down their ideas. Finally, just when discouragement was about to invade their circle, a tiny voice spoke from the back of the gathering. The Animal People were all surprised to find that the voice belonged to the Mole.

The Mole was a small creature who spent his life tunnelling through the earth and because of this had lost most of the use of his eyes. Yet because he was always in touch with Mother Earth, the Mole had developed true spiritual insight.

The Animal People listened respectfully when Mole began to speak.

“I know where to hide it, my Creator,” he said. “I know where to hide the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice.”

“Where then, my brother?” asked the Creator. “Where should I hide this gift?”

“Put it inside them,” said the Mole. “Put it inside them because then only the wisest and purest of heart will have the courage to look there.”

And that is where the Creator placed the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice.
.
.
Found in “Indigenous Legal Traditions,” Prof. John Borrows.

“Professor and Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria. The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Law Commission of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in the preparation of this Article.”
Footnote 152:
Based on a story by Phil Lane, Jr., Four Worlds Development, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, as retold by Richard Wagamese, in ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLES, RESTRUCTURING THE RELATIONSHIP (1996)

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