Fiddleheads

A Vascular Poem

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 dying.

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,

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,

The settlers,

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.

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Fiddleheads
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