Sunday, March 8, 2009

A New Poem: Chief Joseph’s Song for Those That Cannot Change What Is

For Frank Inman: Heal. and for the LCO Band of Ojibwe, my great-grandma Susannah Johnson, and her mother Bim We We.

I shall fight no more forever
Lay down my bow and arrow
Set aside my shield
Take up my sorrow
Like a shawl
Drape it carefully
Around low slung shoulders
Use the last light of the setting sun
to clasp it to my breast

I shall fight no more forever
Spread my arms and embrace the rising tide
Use my body to shield
Those things most precious
until my last breath
is my grave marker
and the grass is churned into concrete
the North wind whispering
here fell the shadow of man

I shall fight no more forever
From where the sun now stands
no more dawns will I greet freely
no more the war path will I take
no more shall I know peace
that I lay aside too
only here now lives sorrow and sadness
our blankets are thread bare and hollow

I shall fight no more forever
Stealthily among the young
An ancientness has invaded
Like a cavalry rampaging
Slaughtering innocence
Herding what’s left
Into dusty reservations
The secret land where Death hides it kingdom

I shall fight no more forever
I surrender
There are those that will find new ways
Warriors to resist
But the song my children sing is hunger
Their Fathers are buried in forgotten places
Their Mothers dry bones thrust up from the tall grass
And I have only emptiness to feed them

I shall fight no more forever
Until one day
When the sun rises again
When songs of hunger
Are set to war drums
When fires are built
From broken treaties
When love turned bitter
Is honey sweetened again
When the judgment has passed
Then, then
Bend near to this place
Place your lips on the ground
And whisper my name

-Brandon Lacy Campos
-New York, NY
-8 March 2009

-The photo is courtesy of David Berube and was taken at the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and insights. And thank you for reading!