POETRY

Shannon Thunderbird, her Mother, Coast Tsimshian Elder, Gandoox, (1913-2014) & Guests
(copyrighted)

 

 

THE WAVES, THE SHADOWS AND ME

I travelled a long way to the edge of my existence
And looked down into a vast dark sea
It was peaceful, calm and I was serene
With the waves, the shadows and Me

 To be alone in that tranquility
I yearned for that perfect peace
No future, no past, no anything
Just the waves, the shadows and Me

I wondered as I wandered in this dreamlike state
If the Ancestors were calling me home
Should I go now or wait and see
With the waves, the shadows and Me

What is that I hear? A child calls
Her sweet voice cries for me
And so I know I must wait for her
Beyond the waves, the shadows and Me

And so I walk back into the light
Womens voices accompany me
Their brave song of healing dances atop
The waves, the shadows and Me

 And when I decide that it is time
My eyes will be straight, hands clean
I'll walk to my day of quiet in joy

On the waves, the shadows and Me

-Thunderbird-


(Written in honour of a young woman who fought back from life-threatening despair by deciding to leave the end of her days in the hands of her Ancestors. All My Relations)

 

CRAZY HORSE

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our mother
How do we sell the stars
How do we sell the air
Crazy Horse
We hear what you say

Too many people
Standing their ground
Standing the wrong ground
Predators face he possessed a race
Possession a war that doesn't end
CHILDREN OF GOD FEED ON CHILDREN OF EARTH
Days people don't care for people
These days are the hardest
Material fields material harvest
decoration on chains that binds
Mirrors gold the people lose their minds
Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
Today is now and then
Dream smokes touch the clouds
On a day when death didn't die
Real world time tricks shadows lie
Red white perception deception
Predator tries civilising us

But the tribes will not go without return
Genetic light from the other side
A song from the heart our hearts to give
The wild days the glory days live

Crazy Horse
We Hear what you say
One earth one mother
One does not sell the earth
The people walk upon
We are the land
How do we sell our mother
How do we sell the stars
How do we sell the air

Crazy Horse
We hear what you say
Crazy Horse
We hear what you say
We are the seventh generation
We are the seventh generation

--- John Trudell --

ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-SEVEN

 One hundred and eighty-seven people died today
Well-placed bombs on moving trains
The sacred pipe disintegrates in the face of a world in disarray

There is no sense, no sensitivity
When life is driven by human frailty
Loss of conscience, belief misplaced
Barely a trace of human faith

One hundred and eighty-seven people died today
Going to work, going to play
A day planned out with family and friends
In the blink of an eye a different end

 Life is precious, so sacrosanct
Taken by lives already damned
Yet, victory in flies straight-eyed to the sky
Victory reigns in our day of quiet

 

One hundred and eighty-seven people died today
Now the blood of the sea and the mourning earth
A new normal in our faithless world

Spiritual fire is the basis of love
Death not an ending, the songs of the dove
rain down on the fire dance of a hopeful moon
from the ashes of souls gone too soon

One hundred and eighty-seven people died today
Lives lived, too short, didn't die in vain
I'll remember, I'll remember
 The Ancestors wait in the cleansing rain

187....

 

...Thunderbird...
(In honour of those who perished in a senseless train bombing in Bombay, India - week of July 10, 2006)

 

 

THE LOST ONE

Her long black hair tangled in the rain,

Face bathed in the waters flow

A life cut short by violence, such a sad and lonely waste

She never had a chance you see, a life cut short in haste

A victim in a world of violent circumstance

Surrounded by RCMP and a flashing ambulance

She's the lost one, the lost one

She thought that she could change him

He thought about control

She thought they'd live forever

But he stripped her of her soul

She was young when they met in the salad days of love

Ownership was his concern as he fought to bring her down

He demanded her obedience and when she questioned why

She was pounded to the ground no-one heard her cries

He begged her for forgiveness it won't happen again...he lied

She loved him and forgave him but something in her died

She's the lost one, the lost one

"It is my fault, I am to blame that I'm in this current state

I'll create for him a perfect life", as she dabbed her bloodied face

Perfection can't exist when jealousy's the drug

Raising fists to a woman he once said he loved

She's run aground on the shoals of a tragic life

Her face serene on a lonely street lit only by lamplight

She's the lost one, the lost one

She thought that she could change him,

He thought about control

She thought they'd live forever

But he stripped of her soul

She is free of the sword of Damacleas

Her soul is finally at peace

She did not die in vain you see

She helped to make me free.

...Thunderbird...

 

 

 

SING WITH THE ANCESTORS

Share what you know;

Stand forward in your truth; your word is everything

It is not always what you say, but how you say it

Share what you have, after-all it is only stuff, you can always get more stuff

Care about what you do, and others will care with you

Anger often comes from fear; Step towards your soul, Courage is waiting

The Voice is the Juice of the soul

Jealousy and Resentment often comes from fear; Walk into your Heart, Love is waiting

Do not shame: Do not blame

Listen, really listen

Take responsibility for your place in the world - your feelings, actions, reactions

Hug your Family, Friends, Co-workers

Help those in need

Do not trivialize the normal tasks of everyday life for they are the sacred threads that hold you together

True spirituality is the hum that rests between the Voice and Drum

Finally, when you elevate the world, you sing with the Ancestors

...Thunderbird...

 

 


 STILL STANDING

I guess I can wander around all night
I guess I can wander around all day
Stop! Think! If I turn away from the path before me,
like a bee to honey Im drawn back to the bullshit.
Brace hands and feet against the sides of my own courage
....hold on....hold on
Dont let myself fall into the void..........again
If I do, maybe this time I wont come out
If I fall, maybe this time I wont crawl my way free.

Stand at the centre of the Earth
Breathe in the Four Winds of good, strong change
Listen to the songs of my Ancestors
They suffered, but they stood up
I suffer, yet Im on my knees.

If I stand, will I want to hold myself up?
Surrender to that which is greater than me?
Believe....Believe....Believe
Breathe, I murmur, Look into the Star Nation.
Get up, I urge.
Still Standing.
 

...Thunderbird...
 

 

 

 INDIGENOUS WOMAN

Great Mystery made me an Indigenous Woman

I am mystical, strong and free

My path follows on the wings of the Eagle

I seek my truth in spiritual places

I fly with the Raven and sing with Thunder

In my heart I live where the salmon run

I do not seek power, my power is within

I give freely those gifts that my Ancestors gave me

Through the mists of time, I am an Indigenous woman

...Thunderbird...

 

 

ESCAPE  

I love my Kiowa pony. He runs with the wind;

Tail streaming, mane blazing a-flame as he runs to the sun

He and I, we are one; we sail without effort across the valley,

across the valley of the lonesome ones

I see them scatter before us, those long ago 
shadow figures

They ride their ponies in joyous freedom

How long ago, How long ago

I love my Kiowa pony; he feels as I do,

as I do, as I do, as we run with the wind to

the sun of our desire

...Gandoox...

 

 

 

INDIAN

If it looks like an Indian, talks like an Indian, it must be an Indian

Give me wide berth...for surely I am not human
But hear me...for I can hear you...see me...for I can see you

You can run, but you cannot hide behind your Christian platitudes,
Turning your face away lying smugly in the arms of the dominant race

But I am here, I am strong, and I am The People

See me...for I am real

My skin may be red, but my blood is red, like yours
My tradition says we are born of one Mother

If this is true then you are my Brothers and my Sisters
We are born of one family and Mother Earth is our parent

Do not speak to me loudly, for I hear you and I feel your fear

Come close to me and feel my love

Walk softly with me on our Mother the Earth and together

we will sing with the spirits

...Thunderbird...

 

 

 HIDDEN PLACES

A Night Bird calls. Brush of wings stir the warm dark air about my face
Along the eastern horizon a thread of silver

I watch from the patch of warm grass where I sit each night

The thread grows, expands, stretches, pulling the moon from her hidden places

I, too, feel such pulling; a gentle urge taking me out of my hidden places
I am able to look with love upon who I am. I know I am

Ah, the moon! She rises with magic swiftness, all silver, all round, all perfect

She makes me feel as one with all ages past when human eyes watched 
what I am watching now

Did they, too, sense such beauty from without, meeting such beauty from within?

It’s the feeling of knowing who I am that is my beauty

I covet it, I care about it. I settle it snugly into my hidden places

The rich and silver moon knows her worth. And I know mine

Which is not for telling, only feeling when I am alone

As now with Sister Moon sailing the night sky....

...Gandoox...

 

 

DEAD REDS WALKING

When you are grounded in the world, you know who you are
You can walk the path of knowing with heads held proud
Well Im an Indigenous woman alive on Mother Earth
Not just a token Indian but moving in this world

Were not dead REDs walking but live ones living 
Not sitting on the fringes in a world of your making

We strive to ground our spirits but we want to let you know
That you cannot buy our culture, then seek to let us go

Weve been tied to each other since 1492
Swimmin that same river often counter points of view
We were taught to make you welcome, save your Ancestors sons
In thanks you took our freedom at the point of a gun

You come to our fires to hear the pulsing drums
Yet you dance with abandon upon the hearts of some
You want what we have, drifting in your Holy See
But you don`t want us, you just 'wanna-be'

Were not dead REDs walking but live ones living
Not sitting on the fringes in a world of your making
We strive to ground our spirits but we want to let you know
That you cannot buy our culture, then seek to let us go

We cannot disappear to meet your comfort zone
If you walk in our world, its on our terms and not your own
Don`t turn your face away for we are here and we are real
Don`t turn your hearts away out of hate and out of fear


We don't expect that you should live with the sins of your dads
We do expect that you should know what happened in the past
Its always good to be aware of a culture's history
For if we don`t, as time goes on, we are doomed to repeat

Were not dead REDs walking but live ones living
Not sitting on the fringes in a world of your making
We strive to ground our spirits but we want to let you know
That you cannot buy our culture, then seek to let us go

All My Relations. Heya Ho.

....Thunderbird....

 

 

IN THE MIST

The Universe...The pulsating blue serene

Lies like an ocean of emptiness on my heart
as I rest in the mists of the old ways

Stars like living sapphires pepper the sky
and glow softly on the blue planet

I look to the iridescent moon for answers
as my mind orbits with celestial wakening

Can my people go home again?

My heart constricts as I gaze aloft,
Orion's Sword pierces my soul

NO.  The Star People weep

What was can no longer be
Except in my dream time

when I rest in the mists of the old ways

Should I fall into insouciance?
Soul-less and out of step with my Ancestors?

NO.  The Thunder Beings pound their message...

What was can no longer be

What is,  Can be

And I rest in the mists of the old ways

...Thunderbird...

 

 

ONCE MORE

My home is in the morning mist
I have wandered far away and often

Too often...

Yet wherever I went, wherever I go now,
The morning mist will rise over hilltops,
Over tall buildings, sweetening the air.
Before the waves of morning traffic surge insistent cresting 
and falling with crashes upon the beaches of my heart

I  must find the morning mist of my childhood
Only in my mind do I find it

Yet one day, some day, I will see it,

Smell it, feel it on my upturned face;

and I will be home once more

...Gandoox...

 

 


When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.

Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in magazines for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.

I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.

At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.

At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.

I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells

I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

 

 

 BURDEN OF PROOF

We live in a time of science and technology
Yet Raven continues to sing about the time he burst from the mountains to organize the world...bringing water,
arranging tides, making clams stop gossiping, and on, and on

Burden of Proof rests with Raven, I guess
   
We humans are empirical beings and demand
that there be evidence that Eagle is king
We know he is
the
Principle Messenger of Great Mystery 
He speaks for all who choose to hear

Burden of Proof rests with Eagle, I guess
   
jesus  animation

 

We like to think it was humans who ordered the world
Arrogant beings that we are
that somehow we were elevated to the right
hand of God......
But who is Jesus....really....who is Jesus?
We have to know to make him real

Burden of proof rests with Jesus, I guess

 

   
Science says thunder is a sudden heating and expansion of air by electrical discharge
The Elders says it is a huge black bird with red eyes
rolling across the sky...thunderbird blinks...lightening snakes flash under its wings

The burden of proof rests with Thunderbird, I guess
   

 

Does the world have to be so acutely visible?
Must we see and touch the extraordinary beauty of dreams to make them real?
Perhaps we should let the dreamers dream
Allow their imaginations to bring fond hopes for a peaceful world

The burden of proof rests with the dreamer, I guess

 

   

There was once only a thin veil that separated the seen from the unseen world
Illusion is not just fantasy but visions from the Elders
in the quiet moments just before sunrise when
the world is silent so humans can pray and be heard

The burden of proof rests with the Ancestors....I guess

....Thunderbird...

 

 

WHY AND I AM AN INDIAN? 

Someone once asked me what makes me an Indian
The question took me by surprise and I did not respond, but it did make me wonder
 
Am I an Indian because some traveller in history got lost
Am I an Indian because of my appearance, or because of where I live
 
If the government says I am Indian then surely that is what I am
If one or both or both of my parents tell me I am an Indian it must be so
 
Does a plastic card with my name and weight on it make me an Indian
Am I a true Indian if I practice all the old ways and learn my native tongue
 
I live on the reserve with other Indians who look like me, surely I am one
I attend longhouse frequently so you cannot say I am not
 
Both my parents were Indian, therefore I must be an Indian
My parents have taught me to be Indian
 
Someone cannot make you or teach you to be an Indian
Oh they can show you culture, clothing, language, but practice does not an Indian make
 
Don't judge me by the fluid in my veins, or the color and shape of my skin
Don't think me Indian because I know and practice my culture
 
I am an Indian because my heart screams it is so and my soul knows it for truth
I am what I am because my spirit will not let me forget
 
So in answer to the person who wanted to know what makes me an Indian
Nothing makes me, I just am

...Stacey LaForme...
Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation

 

 

 I AM SORRY 

Dollars and programs you offer as retribution
For heinous crimes committed inside an institution
 
Pacify my people or ease your conscience
Yet we both know it is all pretense
 
Say your sorry for what my people went through
Say you're here to help, I'll pretend to believe you
 
So what is your offer to make everything right
How many dollars will it take to ease your conscience tonight
 
So give me your money and the good deeds can commence
Money born in blood, and earned through the brutalization of innocence
 
Yet know that if I but had the strength, I would spit upon your money
I would turn my back on pretend words that mean nothing to you and less to me
 
Let me abuse your children and grandchildren, would a few dollars make it right
Would the money make up for even one single night
 
tonight when you go into your children's room to check and make sure they're okay
Take a moment and think of the pain and terror our children were forced to live everyday
 
Think long and hard, be honest and tell me how you feel
Only then will I accept your apology, because I will know your words are real
 
Though even true words cannot change the past
It is an honest start at long last
 
Until that day finally arrives
We will take your money and pretend to believe your lies
 
And I will pray to the creator that my ancestors can forgive
That we have forsaken their past and the way they were forced to live

...Stacey LaForme...
Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation

 

 

 


THE JOURNEY`S THE THING

When you travel your path

Wherever you are

Climbing hills or swimming upstream

Or engaging your Heart

The journey's the thing

The end result is the way of it

The journey`s the thing

The Circle of Life is rich and its poor

The balance of both makes you who you are

The journey`s the thing

The end result is the way of it

The journey`s the thing

If you laugh with the Moon

and love with your heart

If you can walk the walk

You can talk the talk

The road becomes wider, smoother and soothing

The Journey`s the thing

The end result is the way of it

The journey's the thing.

------Thunderbird-----

 

 

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