Savage Eloquence

For Aisha Masakella


Big Mountain

you old story you old

thing you fighting over nothing everything

how they work us

against one another      They mean to kill us

all        Vanishing is no joke   they mean it

We don’t fit this machine they’ve made instead of life

We breathe spirit         softness of dirt

between our toes         No metaphors              Mountains ARE

our mothers     Stars our dead

Big Mountain we’ve heard your story a thousand times

We’ve grown up inside your slaughtered sheep          Move here move


die on the way             fences through our hearts

ask permission to gather eagle feathers

no sun dance   take our bundles shirts bowls

to put in dry empty buildings

walls more walls jails more jails agencies thieves rapists &

drunken refuge

from lives with nothing left

Take our children        take our hands hacked from us in death          tell


to us    about us           lies written spoken lived death that comes in

disease relentless

Vanishing is no metaphor       Big Mountain you are no news           our


eloquence is dust between their walls their thousand deaths

We go to funerals never quite have time

to step out of mourning           Everything we have left is in our


deeply hidden              No photograph or tape recorder or drawing can


the mountain of our spirits

They are Still

saying they know

what is best for us

they who know nothing

their red papers decisions empty eyes laws rules stone fences

time cut

apart with dots killing animals to hang their heads on walls

We cannot make sense

of this

It has nothing              everything

to do with us

Big Mountain I’ve met you before in Menominee County, at

Wounded Knee, on the Trail of Tears, the back street bars of

every broken city

I could write a list long & thick as the books they call Indian


which none of us


We know you fences death laws death hunger death

This is our skin

you take from us         These were our lives               our patterns our dawns

the lines on our faces

which tell us our songs

Big Mountain you are too big you are too small you are such an


old story

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