A River Runs Through It

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I always declare on forms that I’m American Indian or Alaskan Native

Now I realize, better than others, that I’m only half Mohawk. Only.

I don’t know if I do this to increase my chances of getting hired or to warn

I know I don’t look like your stereotypical idea of what an “Indian” should look like

This white guy you see, who can hold a tan through winter, is accessible with his wavy hair

The collector of the forms gets the best of both worlds…white-looking and diversity

A straight of the Rez, long-haired, stoic, traditional Native told me I was an apple

I am a product of the government’s relocation policy. Get them off the Rez.

That’ll assimilate them

So I don’t speak Mohawk, just as my mother doesn’t, but my grandparents did

No ceremony to get a traditional name, like most of my cousins have

I’ve never been to a sweat-lodge

So his remark was meant to hurt me. There are layers. On the surface it stung

It stung because I thought we were friends. So why would he intentionally hurt me?

I knew I didn’t choose where I was borne…off the reservation. Not my fault

However, I was in my mid-twenties, so I could’ve regained what was never given to me. I could’ve returned home again

But remember…the camera might add weight, but the mirror doesn’t lie

Try to fit in

Next layer…I’m ecstatic that he thinks I even look Native, as being an apple implies

I always wished I looked more Native

He tells me a couple weeks later that the guy behind the counter at the campus gym was racist towards him

He called him, “Chief.”  He looked at him with disgust. Told him there are townie gyms he would be better off at and told him TO MAKE SURE he wiped his sweat off the machines

Did this make me feel better that I pass as Caucasian? That I somehow dodged a bullet?  No.

I was a rage filled apple. I wanted to cave this ignorant lunk’s head in with a dumbbell

I was his brother, even if he didn’t think so

You see, generational pain exists in your DNA, right down to your marrow

These sublimated rivers of tears, that hollow out the ground beneath us, thrum beneath our feet

Like elephants and house pets, we feel the earthquake coming days in advance

The caverns created beneath us are filled with the stalactites and stalagmites made of our ancestor’s calcium. They’re bones.

Every step is precarious if the ground is hollow beneath you. For native Americans all ground is hollowed and hallowed

I look at my son and wonder if I should raise him to check that box, or not

Only a quarter. Try to fit in. Only.

Step carefully my son.

 

I miss

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I miss the younger me

The weightless unencumbered me

The carefree and aimless me

I want to hide beneath the weeping willow

A nature-made fortress…of solitude 

Where, like Superman, I flew

Thin branches wound around my bone-thin forearms 

Leaping against the pull of gravity

A mind that didn’t carry sorrow 

Or guilt 

Or servitude to the almighty dollar 

A helium balloon in the clouds

Tethered to unslumped shoulders

How I soared 

I bent spoons with my mind

Slayed dragons with vorpal sticks

I worshipped the mother in this church 

Light shining through stained glass leaves 

Many moons later

Barely able to lift head from pillow

I’ve sidestepped into a different reality 

Where I no longer felt like I fit and I made sense

This alternate timeline

After 12 hours of contractions

I find myself sentenced

Now I’m a contraction at the end of a sentence 

It is what it’s 

Pendulum

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The pendulum swings

From pearl to gastrolith

I feel it’s weight with each shifting

In this damned uncomfortable chair

When it’s a pearl

It’s a story

A captivating tale that sets me apart

Sets me on the path of being

Actualization

When it’s a gastrolith

It’s still a story

A forgettable pablum not worth noting 

Securing my place of anonymity 

Forgotten 

The weight, either way, is there

It’s gravity a nagging reminder 

Often paralyzing 

There are times, though

When the bits of wire and rusted nails

Break free from the ingested magnet

Where all the world’s pain collects

These bits of detritus regurgitated 

Coming out through a torn throat

In bloody, mucosal, pyroclastic eruptions

There are times, though

The body feels warmth from the insoluble 

It gently encases it in layers of nacre

Making its expulsion more tolerable 

The vomitus a pictada fucata 

Throat stretching to accommodate 

The goose that lays a mother of pearl egg

In either case, the process is necessary 

Whether avoiding a stomach so full

I beach myself on distant, unknown shores

Having broken the elemental barrier 

Born again, but into desiccation 

Or the calcium that makes up the nacre

Is cancerous in high concentrations 

The body evicting a deadly tenant

A baby gestating too long

In either case, the process is creation

In minima

Like a young child staring in awe

The first time they make

Crying when the toilet’s flushed 

Or the first piece of art 

That makes the side of the fridge

There is value in the letting go

Not the reckless abandon of encopresis 

But the satiation of a need

The building of an edifice of confidence 

But just like the microdosing of dopamine 

It’s a bandaid for a puncture wound

True healing

A resurrection, not just a seance

A real fucking dose, not just a bump

I have to stop hiding

I have to  take the leap

But I daydream about skydiving 

And am afraid to fall

In the end, the true fear is failure

That if I cut myself open

If I dig this weight I carry out of my guts

If it’s DOA

Then I am empty, a shell, a testa

And where do I go from there?

I only have one recurring dream

And one ever-present nightmare

The grass

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I have been to the battlefield

And I am forever altered

I’ve witnessed boys trying desperately 

To prove themselves as men

The war-cries of youth long died out

In the early morning stillness 

I’ve stepped among the bodies

Lying in twisted heaps

The landscape a horrific tableau 

The marginalized finally finding comfort

Here, this band of misfits, this motley crew

They knew without doubt

They had each other’s backs

Where life had taught them 

They couldn’t count on anyone 

That they’d never get a fair shake 

That they’d always be sized up

Lumped in with the stereotypes

A two dimensional symbol

Less than human

I was four, going on forty

And even then I sensed the sadness

That seeped from their pores

Along with last night’s alcohol

These purebred warriors

With perpetually tanned skin

And arrow straight, jet black hair

And me, a halfbreed

Fair skin and curly, brown hair

I wanted to be them

But I only inherited their sense of sadness 

And of not truly belonging anywhere

An outlier amongst the marginalized 

If I wasn’t stuck up on this fence 

I’d show you the grass is the same 

On both sides…

Bloodstained

Open invitation

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This one is simple. I’m going to list the artists, almbums or songs that I find myself listening to most, as of late. I think it should provide some insight into me. Then, if you’d like, you can share your current music interests in the comments.

Adele 21, Alanis Jagged Little Pill, Audioslave Audioslave, Bush Razorblade Suitcase, Coldplay Parachutes, Counting Crows August and Everything After, The Fray How to Save a Life, James Blunt Back to Bedlam, Live Awake: the Best of Live, Nirvana Nirvana, Pearl Jam Rearview Mirror, Pink Floyd The Wall, Radiohead The Best of, Sonny Boy Williamson The Real Folk Blues, Hozier Take Me to Church, Imagine Dragons Whatever it Takes and Believer, Gary Jules Mad World, Queens of the Stoneage No One Knows, Rag n’ Bone Man Human, Sam Smith Lay Me Down w/John Legend, and Bastille World Gone Mad.

Your turn! 🙂

Hope for the Best

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She went to the store with a hope-filled heart. Each step her optimism grew. She smiled and nodded to people she didn’t know on her way to aisle 12. There she spent the better part of fifteen minutes looking for just the right card. A card for the birthday of a beautiful young lady, the vision of which her minds eye kept from years ago. Only positivity. With the perfect card found, she made her way to the bouquets of flowers. She wanted to remind her of the beauty in the world. The natural, pure, unadulterated world. She sat in her car, after checking out, and penned a note in the card through tear-filled eyes. Still smiling all the same. She drove the few short blocks to her house, knowing nobody would be awake at that early hour and simply propped the card and flowers against the front door. She hopped into the car and drove home. Walking in I could tell that she had been crying, but before I could ask why…she hugged me, stronger and longer than she had in a while. Smiling, she asked how the baby was, and I smiled back and said, “Fine.”  She picked her up and held her tightly in her arms. Her eyes welled but her beautiful smile never wavered. 

“It’s gonna be okay, baby girl,” she whispered. 

[My wife and I have custody of her niece’s 6-month-old daughter, while her niece deals with her demons. On the surface we wish her niece and the father of this beautiful little girl will get their shit together, as this perfect bundle-of-joy deserves to have her family. But, on a much deeper level, we are falling in love with her. I know how much my wife has wanted a little girl, us having two boys, and see the glee with which she dresses her up in cute little girlie outfits. So, I’m afraid, that my fear of losing this little girl, of seeing the loss on my wife’s face, that I’m becoming a wretched person with each passing day…hoping the demons never lose their grip.]

A New Hobby: Drawing

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I’ll make this brief. If you’ve ever wanted to draw, but you just didn’t think it was in you…think again!

I’ve been reading the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, and have been doing the exercises. I’m astounded!  This book doesn’t teach you how to draw…it teaches you how to SEE and to circumvent the dominant left hemisphere of your brain, so the right hemisphere can do its job.

I’ll leave you with my pre-instruction drawing of my hand, to see the progress. I might post other drawings in the days ahead, or illustrate my own blog posts…who knows!  Also, if you decide to give it a go—please share!

Here’s my first attempt:

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Deepest Fear

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My deepest fear is not being me. I don’t mean that in any conceited way, that I don’t want to be you, but…we’ll I don’t. I want to be me, or me but better. But, if I was better, would I still be me? Am I a different me than I was yesterday? If this idea of me, really is some ever evolving thing or state, like an asteroid that passes through the atmospheres of people and books and experiences…having chunks of myself torn away, honing myself into a new me—different from having gone through the experience, then maybe there really is no me, but the present me. The right now me. A different me than the me that wrote the first sentence of this post. A few minutes older. A few neuronal connections exist now that didn’t before. So, maybe my deepest fear is misplaced. Of course, I could go down the route of, “all I ever really have is the present me.” I definitely see the truth in that, but it doesn’t assuage this boiling fear beneath the surface. So let’s forget the present me thing. Maybe it’s not this construct of me that I fear to lose, but the cognitive foundation that gives me the ability to sustain and evolve the construct in the first place. I think I’m getting closer here. What I fear is: traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, strokes, aneurysms, tumors, etc.—basically anything that takes away my ability [my ability] to be me. I think I could handle the loss of limbs, hearing, sight, and possibly all of those at once…if I could still communicate. If I could still express myself in some way. This would, of course, change the present me, and limit the types of experiences that could change this construct of self, but through communication/expression I could not only sustain, but evolve the present me. I know I’ve muddied the waters a bit, by jumping around with words that seem to contradict one another, like change and sustain, but I think you get the picture.

Now this is what I fear for myself, but I also fear any harm coming to loved ones (family/friends, etc.), but I’m curious: what is your deepest fear?

Coo coo for Cocoa Puffs

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At the bottom of a spam email, probably 3-4 years ago, or so, I came across some unintelligible writing. There seemed to be structure but just didn’t make sense. The first sentence was, “At the hands of taking into consideration that missed July your Western European initiated against oriental programs many times contradropping basic steps…” For whatever reason, I kept reading. Near the bottom of this jumbled mess I came across the following text, which I applauded, at that time, the indomitably, creative human spirit of the downtrodden author, who must’ve been in a living hell, having to write spam emails for a living. Here it is (Note: The views and opinions expressed in the following article are those of the unknown author and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of any sane/rational person that I am affiliated with/know of, or have created as a fictional character):

“And then there are pigeons. Ever seen their mating ritual? Chances are you have, but can’t remember it. It never aired as a fancy schmancy Discovery Channel or Animal Planet documentary, that’s for sure! The mating ritual of the pigeon, rat with wings, and the only scavenger that has somehow succeeded in suckering hordes of people into feeding them, goes like this: A female pigeon’s trip led through some populated area…just minding her own business. Along comes a male pigeon. He starts follow her. Not at a respectable distance but within the tiniest of fractions of an inch from her feathery ass. She starts walking faster. He starts walking faster. She turns left, he turns left. She turns right, flies off, lands again, turns rightleftright. He turns left, right, flies off after her, lands again within the tiniest of fractions of an inch from her feathery ass, turns rightleftright. Finally she gives up and lets him bang her. This goes to show that what some call stalking others, notably pigeons, call courting. And if someway, somehow the pigeon society would ever evolve into a constitutionally governed state, bestowing certain unalienable rights to its citizens, such as the right to be free, and some schmuck, overly eager pigeon of a lawyer would demand a restraining order for the pigeon stalking his female pigeon client the pigeons would be royally fudged and die out in one generation. Luckily for the pigeons though, they’re really stupid and will only evolve into a society when hell freezes over, in which case fucking might be the only thing that can keep them warm.”

Half-life

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We’re all in a state of continual decay

Casting off neutrinos, alphas and betas

Dander and forgotten moments of yesterday

Fluttering to the floor is what their fate is

These motes of us become tomorrow’s dust

These particles dance in shafts of light

Thanks to wanderlust everyone breathes in us

Adrift on thermals we finally take flight

Look around now at all that you’ve collected

Owned and used by you or simply meddled

You are what you hold AND what’s rejected

A feather duster to clean on what you settled