100% Human

The body of the earth does not belong to me; my body belongs to it. The debate about Elizabeth Warren and her “native heritage” is a painful one, and it reminds me that the ethnic composition of a person’s DNA means little. What we do with our lives matters. I am 100% human. So what? If I spend my days lusting in the halls of materialism gone mad, than my “humanity” will amount to little but a drop in the cesspool of avarice that covers this earth I love like a mosquito-infested swamp and my 100% will choke off the fertile ground and pollute the clean waters that nurture all living things.

I thought about having my DNA tested. While I know that a large percentage of my ancestors came from Europe, most of them following the French-Indian fur trade down the Mississippi River from Canada, large gaps and lots of questions remain about my heritage. So what? Finding out that I had a percentage of Native American DNA or that I had an African Great Great Greatsomeone who was brought to this land in chains would not make me a res kid or child raised in the Chicago projects. It would not give me the right to claim a place at a table built on cultural identity and suffering where I have never eaten. I already care about my Native and African brothers and sisters with all 100% of my humanity. I want to see respect and reparation generously given to those on whose land and on whose backs this country has thrived, and I will continue to work toward that. We have a long, long way to go.

I want to see the land respected and repaired. I grew up wandering the woods around my home, a child of the wind who whispered his secrets in my ears, the trees who taught me to tap deeply into the ground and patiently stand tall, and the great rivers who taught me respect and awe. I didn’t grow up with material wealth, but I had the richest of playgrounds and a lavish education. Nature never asked about my DNA. She captured my attention and inspired my imagination without questioning what percentage of me was hers. I am 100% human. The body of the earth was not born of me; I was born of it.

https://tanyacliff.com/2016/08/15/meskonsing-cutting-the-skin-of-the-drum/

~

Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories.

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Imagine

imagine ~

if the obese worm
of bigotry
could be contained
in a chrysalis
there
forced to change
or starving die
might emerge
life’s
liberated
butterfly

~

Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse

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Cracked

cracked shell

                clam dies

cracked chrysalis

                insect flies

cracked skull

                head bleeds

cracked bell

                liberty

cracked hull

                ship sinks

cracked egg

                sulfur stinks

cracked bat

                fly ball

cracked shale

                earth weeps

cracked earth

                land quakes

cracked book

                ideas make

cracked sac

                baby born

cracked bud

                flowers bloom

cracked window

                enter breeze

cracked wall

                humans freed

cracked smile

                contagious joy

~

Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

2018 – My Hope

2017
birthed
a colicky infant
who, although spoiled and overfed,
produced a continuous line
of
mostly incoherent
squawks
from his high nest

by spring
he had grown into the playground bully
amassing toys,
hoarding even,
to make his sandbox castle great
AGAIN

by summer,
or buy,
his overgrown form
preached from a pulpit like a profit-god
A MASS
that sounded
oddly
like his former spoiled, soiled
colicky
chirps

by autumn…
I don’t know what he said.
I bought earplugs
to relieve my throbbing
MAGAraine
suffering
head

2018
I HOPE
has birthed infants everywhere
who will cry from the collective pools
of
starvation
poverty
and
neglect
AND
that the children of spring
will remove the genetically-modified cotton
stuffed in our privileged ears,

so that we who have will

listen

&

share

~

Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

Cherita #10

“butterfly” banned

winged insect breaks through chrysalis
and drips dry

its first flight, a girl points, delighted,
and says,
“Look, a flutterby”

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry cherita.

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The Barbarian’s Fiddle

I sat in a room
with a noisy crowd
who hated all things “Asian”
haunted, they were
by world war ghosts
and
communist libations
they speared the Barbarian-Yellow Goldfish
in their community pond
and
siphoned the living waters
leaving sandy bottoms –
the dried grains of bigotry
kicked and whipped
into a blinding storm

Their Dust Bowl creation
ever threatens to choke the next generations

I made two strings sing
in
melancholic
tragic
vibrato
that mimicked the human voice
Persecuted

The room fell momentarily silent

I played on

Suffering
is
an
endless
tune

until, interrupted by an old man
coughing up affected phlegm
that he spat into the Dust Bowl
slightly settled through his falling tears

I paused

He inquired as to what beautiful instrument
had seduced his soul to
blissful
despair
An erhu, I sighed
It is Asian –
otherwise called the “Barbarian’s Fiddle”
Its two, long strings carry the vibrations
of generations of tears splashed down onto the collective pool
by those you persecute by referring to them as
“slanted-eyed Chinks”

He snorted and laughed
He kicked some dirt in my face

I played on

Suffering

an endless tune carried in the vibrato of two Asian strings

~

Words and Photography ©2017 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry & free verse. Bookmark the permalink.

 

With Reservation – Revisited

 

“Words do not pay for my dead people.”

Shall we talk
about
it
awhile while we travel the miles
of
defiled
land
slaughtered
animals
murdered
people
that
lead
to a
place
you will be
graciously confined
called
a
reservation
but
you
don’t
need
an
application
just
lose
your
apprehension
and
stay
put
here
awhile while we hand out the piles
of
stingy
food
rationed
goods
white man’s
ways
that
you
are
being
graciously supplied
without
hesitation.

“Good words will not give me back my children.”

Yes, but you fled
showing great
premonition
against our
demands,

AND

we require
your
supplication
without
RESERVATION.

“Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law.”

Sure, just submit
to our
imposed
economic
spiritual
cultural
bounded
limitations

until we discover the next resource we want.

“Give them all an even chance to live and grow.”

You ARE free to live
and grow –
within the
restriction
called
a
RESERVATION
and
all
its
white man’s
imposed
economic
spiritual
cultural
bounded
rules!

“Let man be a free man – free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade where I choose, free to choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself – and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty.”

Sigh.

We’ve talked
about
it
awhile
while you traveled the miles
to
bitter
tears
stolen
lives
broken
hearts
that
you
have now
been
forever (until we discover the next valuable resource we want need)
graciously subjected to
called
a
reservation
but…

“You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.”

but…

“I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises.”

but…

“All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers…”

but…

“Words do not pay for my dead people.”

~

All the words in quotes above were taken from a speech given by In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat (Thunder traveling over the Mountains), more commonly known as Chief Joseph. He was chief of a tribe of the Nez Perces (Wal-lam-wat-kin band of the Chute-pa-lu), a group of people who had maintained peace with white people since they had first met and helped Lewis and Clark in 1805. It was always his goal to live peacefully with the white people. After a few young Nez Perces men took revenge on a white settler group who had killed their own fathers and brothers, Chief Joseph’s tribe became the target of military action and revenge, in spite of his appeals.

~

I am revisiting “With Reservation”, first published last year, in recognition of Native American Heritage Month and the continuing battle in my state (Line 5) and others to recognize treaty rights and improve the living conditions of and opportunities available to Indigenous groups. We have a long way to go.

The United States celebrates something we call “Thanksgiving” this week. In schools, students are taught the story of Native Americans who helped Pilgrims during a difficult season and the meal they shared to celebrate the harvest. In truth, colonialism resulted in the decimation of hundreds of nations and millions of human lives. Those who didn’t perish faced the loss of culture, dignity and ancestral lands. The destruction to natural resources that Europeans wrought on the so-called “New World” has included everything from buffalo to water. The persecutions and resource grabs continue to this day.

~

The complete original post can be read here.

~

Words and Photography ©2016 & 2017Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetrynoDAPL & human rights. Bookmark the permalink.