A First Nations man, a fifth generation carver, was shot four times by a Seattle police officer on Monday when he was walking with his folded knife and a block of wood. I wanted to write about how it was not an isolated event of police brutality, or even brutality in general against indigenous people. Likewise, there is something poetic and devastatingly symbolic about the perceived threat of the knife of a carver to this police officer. Is it the carver, or the tradition of carving, which cuts and heals simultaneously? Anyway, late night questions.
This is my attempt at articulation of my anger, and actually deserves better attention than my rough Thursday poem habits of just typing whatever comes to mind, but at least something's out there, and we can talk about it. Good night. Christy
For John T. (“Trouble”) Williams
Dear John, you’re Trouble, I love you.
Your grin in the sidewalk,
your sidestep stagger, a spin,
I am your lady,
you are my duke,
let’s be rich until midnight.
Dear John, you are two thirty, I love you.
Open your eyes, see me in
my torn threads as I
glass slippers, one slipper, barefoot as you blink.
Now we are dancing servants,
and we are early.
John, time’s got a joke in your drink,
take a swig and laugh it backwards,
I love you in every generation.
Dear John, Father of John, Father of Father of
John, Father of Father of Father of John,
with knives as hands,
cut across a block of wood like sons
whittled into bears, into birds,
into brave beasts.
With knives as hands, I love you.
This ribbon world, shred it.
Spiral it to your touch.
Me, my drunk passion for you,
prick my finger, make me promise.
Dinner, a lavish processed plate,
divide it, take what you need, leave it, share it.
The day, cut and paste the hours,
dream at noon, stumble in somewhere
when you are not welcome,
where you are not welcome,
The welcomers, scrape heart scars onto their chest, lest they forget.
Your feet, slash the bottoms, a trail to your mother, go home.
And in the city park garden, carve your name into the woodwork,
your father’s name, all their fathers’ names, carve their wives’ names, their children’s names, your clan names, the animals that make you cunning, the wind directions that you make tremble, carve it all, give it a new shape, an old shape, leave a reminder,
because today, my love,
today they will yell into your bad ear,
they will demand that you drop your knife to the ground,
and they do not know.
They do not know how your knife holds me safe against nightmares,
how it held out tokens, how it opened trees into stories,
how you were born with the family glint,
how it healed a man to know where he came from,
they think it’s something you can let go of.
And you will not surrender,
you will fall to pieces.
You will not be put back together.
the police are looking for witnesses.
But they will not find them in the park,
his and her recollections of a few spare minutes.
Who will tell them how you loved?
That these are not your king’s horses.
That these are not your king’s men.
This was not a wall you fell off of.
It was tradition.