Winkan Nupes


My own country, but I don’t own my land.

I used to put my hand through the orange sand.

My brother and I would count pejig, nij.

Bumping our moccasins against the ground we’d stare to our future.

The kizis rapped on our backs as the wind chiseled us into men.

Long ago, it was poppa’s laughter that awoke me.

I was too young to notice the bottles littering our home.

As a boy becomes a man he does many rituals.

Howling like a wolf. Chasing after the world. Running from the burning sun.


My own country, but I don’t own my land.

I used to put my hand through the orange sand.

The smell of tobacco stung my nose.

Chants from the singers with a beautiful ikwe singing a song.

These are the darkest skies you ever see.

My brother and I flew from the sun, because we didn’t want to die.

Where there was a future was merely a pile of dead forget-me-nots.

No one notices, even though they stare.

Wars fire off everywhere, yet my brother and I are pulling up sand.

Grandma would call apis to us.

Thunder would announce the pattering of poppa’s feet.

Certain things a man can’t dance away.

I wanted to be a mamankanois.

The earth shakes beneath me.

My friends put on fine suits.

Kupi, I’ll be patient.

Poppa drinks away his sorrow.

Someone told us to put our hand in the master’s hands.

The essence of childhood is ignorance.

Once a child is grown he knows how to weep articulately. No stutters. No lisps. No confusion.

This is no place for my lovely nuntanuhs. My nuqisus will be as his numohshomus. As for me – nothing.

Even if I cut my black hair my back is chiseled from the clay of the earth.

I once climbed up a rakiock.

When I came down I was married.

The turtle moving by glanced at me.

“Go home,” he said.

I am home in someone else’s house.

I am the Native American and I am the forgotten one.

Like a soldier without a gravepost, I gaze at my feet not knowing where they’ll lead.

No one knows how it feels to be a stranger in the only home one has ever known.


Kurustuwes nir.

Take ten children with you.



This poem is about: 
My country
Our world


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