The Slam: Slammables

heritage

by ancient amateur, Gallifrey

heritage

 

i stand on the crumbling bank, kick a stone into the sluggish

river, watch it disrupt the small waves.

a rebel sinks in the current, drops from my mind.

i look up, see the butte we call crowheart.

sandstone holds the blood of my people,

united once in battle

 

or, at least, that’s how things used to be

now, we are

divided   /   fractured   /   dust

 

mature, old-growth sagebrush stands

taller than a man.

when water recedes, when river banks crack

and dry, the sagebrush sighs, exhales perfumed air.

the sun chuckles,

skips to the kitchen, ties on a striped apron,

and lights the stove.

 

Our hearts were once full of wind and mountains

now, we boast casinos,

“genuine artifacts”, and political bitterness.

we put a straw to dry ground

and suck the life out

to keep our own lives alight

estranged mother / ungrateful children

 

my mother is chiseled from stone

but she remains in the dark

she crafted me and my brothers

from clay and history she knew

and that was enough.

she makes fry bread sometimes, but more often

she buys fast food, wrapped in colorful paper and euphemisms

it doesn’t hide the fact that we

never have enough

 

i run along the road, scuffing my feet in gravel

the river runs next to me

i have to get away / out / anywhere

will you come with me?

we can go down to the lake

bake in the grinning sun, or

flick the water at each other,

fingers skimming the silky surface

if only for a moment

 

do you remember

when we were friends with the water?

i don’t, but my uncle does

he told me, when i was little,

that the indians used to sing

to the water, bathe in it,

laugh with it.

not anymore.

all the time now, i see powerboats,

little silver contraptions,

zipping over the reservoir

without regard for the depth of the water

or the soul of it.

 

i think we need to be less human

more plant,

more fish.

we should bathe in the water again,

commune with it

smile at our clear blood.

 

i went home today, sat in the kitchen with the

stale air and shadows

and cried

for the dried-up creek, for the fast food,

for my older brother, who only wanted

to go to school, move off the rez.

nope, said the officials, you’re not needed elsewhere

why don’t you just apply at the corner store?

so he did, and on his second day

a white woman, dropping a pile of chips and candy

on the counter,

asked why he wasn’t wearing a headdress

my brother has long raven hair

 

i stand on the crumbling bank, but there is no river

the cracked sidewalk presses up

on my weary feet

someone has died today.

i don’t know who,

but i hear the gunshot

and silence

follows

this is old news

i heard a gunshot

last week

 

my brother still works at the corner store

my mother still remains at home

my soul is elsewhere

i must go catch it

i will run with the river

and the wind

past the rez,

past the dust and sage and bitterness

and i will rise.

abisha’i.

 

 

Author's Note: "Abisha'i" is the Shoshone Indian word for "goodbye"

Slammings

this is...absolutely beautiful.  

the language, the tempo and motion, everything.  the mood is somehow somber, melancholy, and hopeful all at once.  i hope one day, i'll be able to convey deep, complex emotions as well as you do.  and on top of the beauty, it's powerful, extremely so.  maybe i'm crazy, but i feel like this piece of writing could change the world--make people understand something they need to understand.  and that's a helluva good start to changing the world. (that might have sounded over the top, sorry, but i mean it.  seriously.)

have you thought about getting this published somewhere?  

critiqued by sound_thief, trying to find a pen
Jun 13, 2017

Oh my god, thank you! I'm flattered! I haven't submitted it for publication, but I did just recite it at a poetry slam. 

critiqued by ancient amateur, Gallifrey
Jun 14, 2017

Wow.

"i stand on the crumbling bank, but there is no river / the cracked sidewalk presses up / on my weary feet"

"we put a straw to dry ground / and suck the life out"

The imagery here is brilliant.

critiqued by Omnictionarian96
Jun 15, 2017

Wow. There is so much emotion in this poem that I don't have the words to describe how it made me feel. Please publish this and do the world a favor.

critiqued by searchingatsea, A gas station in rural midwestern America
Jul 12, 2017