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Tribes, my mind is tribes
Sometimes at war, sometimes peace,
Sometimes influenced by others,
By gods, flawed and uneternal,
But always alone, unfettered, untamed except by the weather.
My dreams are mighty hunts for food,
for unwilling wildlife,
that collaborates by dying
for bitter berries
that fill while they abrade
But always feed the stomach of my heart,
The mouths of my molded family.
The settlers come when it is valuable to them
And execute us for the crime of savage war,
When it is valuable to them.
When it is valuable to them, they come, like locusts to my maize
To inseminate a famine,
And leave us chafed and weak.
The dream returns empty-handed.
The settlers take control of the lives we lead
the lives our dreams eat
the lives we live under
The milk-white spills like broadening clouds and turns grey
And the lightning comes from within if we reach too hungrily
For the little patch of blue where our food can grow,
For the little patch of green —
Where our expired hearts can be buried and grown anew —
For it is no longer ours.
The settlers, who invented their “own” rules,
Buy up the earth
And now we have lost our “own.”
The settlers pervade like air
And they are nice if you obey,
If you breathe them into your mind,
If you denounce yourself as soiled
By the earth you used to hallow
And is now theirs,
If you place yourself in their good graces by acknowledging you have a soul,
And giving them your body;
They must control your body
If they are to help you forward...
Their only wish:
“Forward.” A term that they define.
But in which direction did your history proceed
Before they robbed you of it?
Your feelings lit your path as light
Before their markers marked it.
But they would have you scrape and strip and scale your wooded temple,
Raze your healthy harvest,
Dam your coolest running water to breed a pool of parasites,
And turn your empire into theirs,
Aztec into Spaniard,
Allende into Pinochet,
Hampton into Sharpton,
Always with the promise of the conqueror, speaking to the tribes:
“Go to the heaven to which we gave you access;
Go to our promised land
By giving up, you’ll have more.
By ignoring, you’ll know what matters.
“Discard your gods and take up idols:
Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford.
Turn into the machine that you invented to simplify your life,
And instead simplify mine.
Place your future into the hands of a greater god,
Greater than the gods of your tribes
The gods who live in the earth,
Empty your hands of cobblestones,
And fill your mind with diamonds.
“For something precious is not to be thrown
But rather, held deep inside,
Like the diamonds in the earth,
And if we don’t free them, as we freed you,
They will die.”
But I will not share dreams with a murderer;
I will not empathize with ore, either.
I will not breathe with my greed,
Or subsist on lust for the unconsented,
For the flickering eye, presenting non-desire except to live.
I will rally my tribes, all of them together.
I will not play them one against the other.
I will help them turn from the forms of old, innocent ways,
Towards the fire that burns the hand,
Towards the weapons, the hulking march, the emaciated winter,
Disruption by provocateurs and judases,
Thor’s misplaced hammer, Eros’s arrow through the heart of Apollo, Quetzalcoatl’s falling feathers...
...The loss of parts of ourselves, our world,
To the present.
As long as my tribes are my friends,
I will arm them.
To do more than survive,
But to resist,
And in resisting, to learn of other tribes,
To unite against the death’s-head,
Who do not listen to words,
Who have no market for hopes besides their own,
Who want me to sell their fear like medicine
For a sickness they create.
And then we will not resist; we will embrace
Rebellion, a new nature,
Built from the old and the new
That cannot be had between tribes and settlers in harmful harmony,
But only when we have won —
When the dying moment yearns
To raise our next crop of hearts in the soil,
Purified with the ashes of the fallen past —
Will the winds blow the white from the sky
And let the sunlight fall upon fiddleheads:
Flesh to feed the hunters
Returning with the future in their hands.