Tag Archives: IdleNoMore

Indin Souljer Boy

16 Apr

With utmost respect and honor I thank those who give it all…

What’s he to do these days?
No jobs, no prospects,
Where, here? On the rez?
Where, there? In the city?
Might as well, cop a meal,
Nice suit and a bad haircut.

Might as well make grandma happy.
He can sit stoic in the frame
next to Grandpa’s and Red Cloud’s.
swap stories with daddy and uncle Jim,
“Iraq IS NOT the new Vietnam, cuz only half the country
supports Iraq. We had nobuddy.”

Yeah, and then he can gourd dance.
Standing there, proud to have served his country.
gallant and valiant, he’ll extend his hand to
gracious shawled mothers.
Might as well feel good about it.
Does he really need to know what he fought for?

After all, he’s a member of two nations
with two flags and two eagles, one revered, one defiled.
Isn’t it his duty to defend the not so green anymore land;
all that we have left, from new conquistadors?
Isn’t it his turn to pick a good day to die
In the name of broken promises?

Might as well right? After all,
they’ll sing songs for him,
bake cakes for him,
hang quilts for him
name mountains after him (just like Piestewa)

And then with his last good breath given in the best way,
won’t his sacrifice finally be right?

-Asani Charles
Copyright 2/7/2005

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I come out de river

12 Apr

Shilombish holitopa ma!
Ishmminti pulla cha
Hatak ilbusha pia ha
Is pi yukpalashke
-Amazing Grace
I was born of man and woman
but came out of the river
Daddy said I was fiery,
called me homalosa , but
the soldiers just called me nigger.

They told us they were federal escorts
for safe passage with assured provisions
but rancid swine quivering in larvae
bloated bleached flour fit only
for the condemned
was what was delivered.

Papa searched the wagon for the ware
fit to bribe the ferryman, for he too was a
soldier, now. Mama feared he’d find no tribute worthy
to shield their eyes from her glory that
was her curse; onyx eyes to match her brow,
aniline lips to match coffee bean skin.
He implored them and they took his mother’s
candelabra and basket purse.

Like feeble oxen we were prodded to the rear.
Mama didn’t look back to the wagon, Papa was
all she ever had. But Papa dared, and his eyes
lured the others to horde our lifethings on the shore.
I clung to Mama’s dress, and hid behind Papa’s shoulder.
At sixteen I was fit to be taken by the uniforms aboard.

We thought the ferry would get us there sooner
and safer, too many to count where they stood
in the snow. But as we numbered still too many
mothers silent prayed that the boat would keep afloat.

And then one rich man was ushered on. Many acres
in marriage he’d acquired. He sent his beautiful wife ahead of
him, to prove we were civilized Indians.
She left bedizened with lace, diamonds,
and almond shaped eyes with freckled light skin.
He used to laugh, saying only her eyes were savage, but her
land was noble.
To our surprise, room was made for his wagon.

And then, before we knew it, I saw them
come for my parents. Papa looked up
like we do to elders. Mama leaned in,
I think she saw her father.
The ferry shook and moaned as she
ruptured from within.

My selfish eyes wanted to look about, but my soul was not
foreign to this. Still, I could hear the wails
of blanketed women, ashore, on board.
My heart paced, suddenly hearing the prayers
of men, and seeing boney nails behind them.

Dreamlike, all being stopped. I heard nothing.
I saw nothing. I felt nothing, but Papa. He undid the rope
that tied us together to keep me to him,
away from uniformed savagery.

In my ear he spoke my mother’s language, in
the other she spoke his. He said, “she has come too far
to me to lose her, I go now with her.” She said, I have come
so long losing everything but us, we go for you.” He said,
“she came to me by the water, you go the same way. Live and
know our names.”

and in a violent water vacuum, they were gone.

So, in the midst of ice and snow, my drenched
body labored to breathe ashore. A grandmother snuck behind
and cloaked me in her best quilt, leaving her shoulders
naked to the prickly army issued blue throw.
She pulled me close, but I had to catch up,
keep walking, find our place and reclaim what was ours.

As I parted, I fell. My legs were waterborne and frozen.
A soldier picked me up by my sleeve, gathered in his hand.
“Who are you nigger girl? You a half-breed? An Injun Nigger?
You an Injun slave? What good is an Injun slave? Like a dog having fleas!”
He laughed at me as my parents’ words resounded like trumpets within.
“Where’d you come from? Where do you belong?” He shoved me along.

Finally my heart found its beat, my lungs air, my voice words
“I come out de river.
A long way here and much furder to go.
No papers for me because I belong to no one.
I come out de river.”

Copyright Asani Charles 2008

Audio file of I come out de river
http://www.reverbnation.com/asanicharles/song/9467842-i-come-out-de-river

Manifesto

11 Apr

At the corner of Riot & Protest
we were born. Born to the nappy heads
and long hairs who spread love and revolution
with peace signs and war cries for “NO MORE WAR!”
They carried us on their hips marching, swaying to and fro, to and
fro with conviction while Marvin, Dylan and Kuti sang preludes to
Redemption Song. Yes, protest was our receiving blanket
and uprising our bassinet and still they wonder,
why we Occupy.

At the crossroads of Broadway & Main we road the bus.
Hurled onto the coattails of Montgomery. We left the Southsides of America,
past chickenchurchliquorstores and granddaddy’s barbershop into the sprawling
green pastures of Uppercrust Suburbia where Sally and Tom play canasta
and everyone gets into college and no one gets a divorce. They didn’t call us
Nigger there, but like Daisy and the Magnificent Nine, we were hated just the same.
They blanched our names; Candace for Khadijah, Mel for Malik, stuffed us in a basketball uniform and said public education had arrived because we survived.
And still they wonder why we Occupy.

Today our Baby Boomers ride power scooters making us officially grown.
we find ourselves strapped down on railroad tracks, yes there’s a spike for every boy and girl. None of us dollar green, the playing field is finally leveled; we’re all equally broke, broken soon to be reassembled in Taiwan. While they’d have us distracted by fragments of glitter strewn here and there, flotsam and jetsam and whomever else Kardashian is doing, quiet in the secret places of the heart dwell the echoes of our parents’ suffrage. We will not take another lie lightly. We will not genuflect politely. We will not prostitute our labor contritely.
Instead We Occupy.

Occupy. Verb. 1. Reside or have one’s place of business in (a building) 2. Fill or take up (a space or time). We reside in our homes built on the backs of grandpas and sewn together by grandmas. We fill up the spaces stolen from shoddy promises and twisted dreams; we’re still here so please get used to it. We take up vocal arms against any who seek to cut our toil down to nothing but meaningless pieces of paper.

We are the daughters of Angela, the sons of Pratt, Los Nietos de Chavez y Sobrinos de Huerta and like them, we’ve already been spat upon and beaten, this scourge is neither new nor life ending, but bred with resilience, knowledge, power, and concrete chins,

We Occupy.

Asani Charles 12/08/11

Grand Entry

11 Apr

M.C. bellows,
“Dancers, last call for Grand Entry!
Tack on that duct tape, it’s powwow time!”
But Susie Walks Again is still getting
her hair braided.

Drum roll call rumbles through the arena,
circling outside the ring of white
vendor canopies, out to the parking lot
where brown van conversions double
as champion dancer dressing rooms.

Graceful Northern Buckskin Grandmas
make their way to the East Side.
Spit-smoothing the braids of tiny tots.
While seasoned Southern Straight Gents
have one last drag and joke before stepping out.

Finally, Susie’s braids are done. She runs,
soars, nearly flys, her fancy shawl is airborne.
She’s a renegade butterfly, but she catches
herself. Smooth now, no panting.
She smile nods at Karlie Charles, first place last.

The staff & colors are in first, carried by
Hanoi Vets for Code Talkers.
Families rise under EZ-UPs,
dads spotchecking
for poacher photographers.
The fireblast of spectra bustles and
Vibrant heartbeat of the drum
sing
the
same
song.

Grand Entry

© Asani Charles 2002

Brown

11 Apr

Brown. Burnt umber. So much that flesh mirrors the red clay
borders of Louisiana and Arkansas. Brown enough to know that
Caddo, Arkansas and Quapaw are more than just street names.
Tobacco bundles for grandpa, smudging memories for political prisoners
Osceola and Wild Cat, remembering Tishomingo battling the French.

Copper. Fallow winters and bronze summers. Wasichus
wait a beat in case they need a Spanish translator
later are amazed at the flawlessness of my English.
Blanched tongues abound, how brown is Nahuatl?
Nearly empty are the gourds that once carried our languages.
We scramble to unbleach the words.

Sienna. Tawny. Just enough to get the Indian price.
Adequate. The only kid allowed inside the Dineh family’s home
on Lowell. I told jokes about Zaragoza, Texas.
Beige enough to stand out at Thanksgiving;
always mama’s ebony aunts asked, “whose this baby?”
Guess they were prepping me to handle falling short.

Redwood. Maroon. The homa rouge of blood wherein
my veins the three continents met. Sandy brown, we were never red,
but hues of caramel, earth and wheat. “Indian Orange,” a prop, a ploy,
better Hollywood’s minstrel tools to praise the cowboys
and kill the natives. Thirty years later Iron Eyes Cody and Raquel Welch
continue to stump the masses.

Bole. Rust. Enough to know why babies die at the foot of the Black Hills.
Sepia enough to understand that nobody cares about the
redblack mixedblood experience. “Good hair” is all the consolation
prize we get. Russet enough to refuse to count quarts of quarters,
but light to zinnwaldite (just about pinky white) ones always will,
validation is in the math and the cards you see.

Brown. Beige. So like moccasins dusting olive drab grass
yellow faded by an auburn summer sun. Cordovan like wearying
leathered hands of grandmothers who tell their last stories
at bingo and lulu for grandbabies underneath
powwow arbors and EZ shades.

The hair on my head is unapologetically wavycurlykinkystraight.
A juxtaposition of those who made me. Carrying their names
in the sheen of the grade, the amber of my eyes, and the glisten on my skin,
I but look within and am reminded of their resilience, their passions
constant like the ground under my feet.
Brown.

 Asani Charles 7/21/11

Theresa

11 Apr

Theresa

I saw her one night during a fitful wink of slumber,
that coy maiden who eludes me during waking hours.
She wore a blanket colored with pollen and treaty
promises and centered among them stood
Changing Woman with turquoise. They faded in and out
as I wavered, walking through dreamscapes, tossing and turning about.

Seems like I remember her faint drum and chorus:
We are-
Idle-
No More.

Then in another moment suspended between now and later,
between inertia and electricity, I saw this mysterious figure again.
This time she was clothed again in a blanket but only herds of white buffalo
ran above its hem and centered on her back stood White Buffalo Calf Woman,
dancing in place, singing a song. Her expression was resolved;
her mantra cannot be ignored.

I’m certain I heard her drum and chorus:
We are-
Idle-
No More.

Weeks went by and she never visited. I dreamt hard, sure to
avoid the shallow waters of sleep but she was nowhere to be found.
I prayed with cedar and sage and found no clarity, had no vision.
These trickster lines became seamless and invisible; they escaped me.
It’s odd though, in the slippery moment we forget, a familiar
shiny shard glimmers in the sand.

When I saw her a third time, her broad shoulders were shrouded with a shawl
bearing Mary Brave Bird’s profile and power. To her breast she held a baby
she named Himak Nittak* and around her ankles shook turtle shells and
they found today a good day to sing a good song.

I am most confident in their drum and chorus,
We are-
Idle-
No More.

And this is how the lines appeared.

*Today

Copyright Asani Charles 3/12/13

Audio file of “Theresa”