Histories

Illustration of many small flowers coming from one stem

by Finn Stuart-Seabrook

 Every time a new story unfolds
So many think they've heard it all before
The tragedy, the heartbreak, the suffering
The love, the joy, the warmth
But we are not one story on repeat
We are lifetimes, generations, eternities
Endless stories woven into the chronicles of our existence
Scrawling out the experiences of our lives not as fanservice for their pity, but as inspiration for those to follow

Yes, there is tragedy, heartbreak, and suffering

Yes, there is love, joy, and warmth

But we are not just a list of emotions meant to entice the viewers
We are a spider web of lives built to catch those falling from the pouring skies of society
We are teachers, keepers of history and tradition
Pillars of love and light in a building riddled with hate on the verge of collapse
They try to diminish our worth
Value us using language far too simple to encapsulate our otherworldly intricacy
But we are ethereal
Ethereal because our story is woven in the stars
Each lifetime adding to the intricate webbing of the
… Something

Filled sky
Stardust whispering our loses to the cosmos themselves
The sun tells our future, each ray of light kissing the gentle skin of sacred bodies
Sacred because each body is a temple

Host to history and future
Adversity and prosperity
Loss and love
Each body represents all that has been given by those before us
And all that has yet to come
Each body holds our horrors but also our hopes
And the sun follows each crack in the skin of this fragile temple as it maps out the way to our long-fought peace
Something that seems so untouchable

But when our history is held by the stars and our future written by the sun
Nothing is ever out of reach




Finn is a queer, trans, neurodiverse creator with a pension for whimsical but thought provoking language. They incorporate aspects of their experiences into their writing as both a method of decompressing and educating. They hope to create better spaces in society for marginalized folks through their work as a creator and educator.

We Are From Africa

A blue illustration of the African continent

By Donat and Lidia

We are from Africa
A continent yet so a country
The land of all
A mother of all
The land of lands
A temple for harmony
So peaceful yet so rightful
A continent that craves beauty
Yet filled with so much aestheticity
Garnished with abundant gold
Enthroned with ivory and silk
That’s our Africa
 
I am from East Africa
Where we love and cherish
Where our blood
Is a reflection of our flag
Where I am my brothers keeper
Where our anthems are blessings in disguise
Where I am from
The forbidden fruit
All of a sudden is not so forbidden anymore
East Africa! The jewel, the pearl
East Africa! Our golden trophy
 
We are from the horn
We are like lions
The pride of our own
The little star of culture
Shining deep in the heart of the continent
We seat strangers to the seas
Just as told by our Mediterranean
Just as told by our Red Sea
“The land of the barbarians”
Our peninsula…
The blessing you offer
Is the blessing you are
Shine no less brighter
But yet warmer.
 
I am from the south,
Amidst the greatness of Rustenberg
I dream of you at night
I dream of your light,
Your warmth,
Your compassion,
Is it still there?
The spirit of Ubuntu that captured our hearts
Is it still there?
Your rich soul that leads me through the road of Jozi
Oh my South Africa!
I dream of you at night.
                                                                                               

Donat and Lidia are grade 11 students at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic High School. They both left Eritrea at the age 4 and 5. Lidia went to Uganda and Donat went to South Africa. Donat immigrated to Canada on the 13th September 2018 and Lidia on the 24th April 2017. They are both cousins who love each other so much.

Hard as Femme

watercolour of cotton flower

By Anonymous 

I have followed a crooked line back
to her particular grace. The edges
of me untidy, tongue coarse as a burlap
sack. Hard. Learned prayers luscious
like rust, a pickup backseat fuck,
a husk of a tractor grill thick with smashed grasshoppers.
The more taboo things I do with my body
the less monstrous my body becomes soft
as the summer wheat scored through
by a highway back to where I was born.
We don't get the saints we need: we dream
them into being the way the cleft of a valley
welcomes the river. So a girl
dreams a femme who would get down
on her knees for her, whose heart
was the naked prairie and then the fire again,
who could muster concern for women’s pain
and other earthly things.
For me, she peels back the screen door
to savour a moth, resting; to hear
how the wind hushes in the fields.
How the air sizzles and cracks
like an acetate song as the sky gathers itself
and crickets croon in the old mother’s tongue.
She turns words of her first language in my open mouth
And falls like lightning into the cup of this night.

Spying on the woman who birthed me

Black and white illustration fo apricot on a tree branch

By Ali R

i saw her again today
she was behind a fence
smoking a cigarette
in a faux leopard print
short fur coat
looking at nothing
unmoving
except to bring
her cigarette to her lips
Heavily medicated by the
approved drugs now
Effectively captured
this too-wild woman
When i was a kid,
i thought i had
killed my mother
the neatly type-written page
that came with me
upon the shady birthday transaction
said she had cervical cancer
when she was pregnant with my twin and me
Which wasn't true:
she was a drug using
street level sex worker
who got knocked up
by an undercover cop.
She carried us.
Her warmth, her movements.
Two little fruits
connected thru a tree of life
These were East Hamilton fruits
Those berry bushes that persist
at the back of an industrial yard
or that apricot tree that stands
at the edge of the strip club's paved lot
It takes some hardness to grow in that kind of space
A jaw tightened in resolve, never laxed at a breast
They felt it best
if she didn't keep her kids, those
Well meaning folks
She had all the undesirable traits.
i lived much of my adult life like a junkie anyways
Without having to push it into my own veins
It's there still.
i pick at my skin in obsessions
and live in scarcity and fear
and desire of her
who i never knew outside of her
i'm still afraid of making any big movements
afraid to kick up trouble
less catecholamine cascades and vascular tightenings
it pulled me to to Vancouver in my early 20's
took supplies from the rich hospital on the north shore
to fervently 'fix' those ten times sicker
on the streets of the DTES
while walking home from night shifts
Not at all knowing
that i was also chasing your bones
the ghosts you left in your path
and with my sisters
scattered across this country
Even my most staunch altruism is rooted within.
so when i finally saw you
decades after we were surgically excised from you 
in premature haste
bored butcher surgeons mistaking
my twin and i for your demons
when i finally saw you,
you lived in East Hamilton again.
five minutes away from me
you could have been anywhere
You still walk the streets
hurried
with giant eyes
i saw you from the outside
for the first time,
around the same time as
i started to heal from within
time being on my side like that.

 

ari r
ali r is a poet who writes about finding her powers, her childhood memories, her birth mother and the power of queer love.

Carpe Omnia

a multi-color of painted tapestry with black tassels

(Take Everything, For Lucinda, Ida Mae and the Rest of Us)

By: Jade Ariana Fair 

Old hands and old lands;

They have known my name.

Women in skirts wide and clanking like church bells,

Braced over tin basins, shucking corn and cleaning yams in the sun.

Old tasks spoken in old words

On African shores

On plantations

In the backyard of the house that I was raised in.

Old hands and old lands;

They have called my name

Sweat rolls steadily down her knit brows in sun so hot that it feels like the inside of someone’s mouth.

Her face in photographs was as stern as a mountain.

She told my grandmother that Kentucky comes from the Iroquois “Ken-tah-ten”

Bare foot Ida Mae taps me on shoulders in my dreams.

I wake up with words wet on my lips, spitting out salmon fat with eggs.

“Ken-tah-ten”

Land of tomorrow.

She calls to me, leaving trails for me to follow in red Kentucky dirt.

Land of tomorrow

I am the unfinished pages of my mother’s journal.

I am the high school diploma that was denied my great-grandmother.

I am her unacknowledged good grades, and the tests she had to take over and over again to prove she wasn’t cheating.

I am the rightful place she was denied in the Latin Club.

I am the stolen quills for the sixty-five million and more whose names have been lost, abandoned, or taken.

I am the ink well that illiterate hands dipped found Cardinal feathers into, knowing without having to be told that words are freedom and wordlessness makes you chattel for white men.

I am yellowed and wrinkled pages of torn bible passages, slipped from calloused hand after calloused hand at midnight in reeds.

I am the good teeth, strong back, clear eyes and naked childbearing hips that fetched a good prize at the state fair.

I am the screaming baby stolen moments after birth, dream-suckling for his mother.

Land of tomorrow.

My blood is hot sweat and pork grease and work songs.

My bones are a mortar and pestle to grind corn meal for frying.

My tongue moves quick like freshly unrecognizable feet covered in leeches from days of running in marshes.

My voice was made in dirt floor cabins, by hands dirty with pollen and pricked with thorns from cotton plants, rubbing balms and salves on the backs of children with scars caked thick and misshapen as mud pies on a playground.

My ribs are shoebox guitars played on matchstick porches, holding a heart that is not just my heart, my many hearts beating throaty voices of gospel choirs.

There is always the faintest taste of iron in the back of my throat. Blood and rust tickle my sinuses; I wake in the night smelling smoke. At first, I do not know whether the house has burned down. Then the stench of charred bodies, the burned strange fruit like Abel’s rejected offering.

Land of tomorrow. Land of tomorrow. Land of tomorrow. “Louder” she commands like an approaching siren.

“Scream. Scream like a train whistle, baby girl. Land of tomorrow. Land of tomorrow.”

“Shout it like hallelujahs at dawn” she says. “Shout it from can-see to can’t-see.”

Land of tomorrow. Land of tomorrow. Land of tomorrow. Land of tomorrow.

Mixing mud and water from dirty rivers,

I mould new mouths.

Mouths with teeth bared

Maybe grinning, maybe growling, maybe both at once, but always open.

When you deny me, it is with this mouth I speak.

Mouths red with lipstick, swollen and pursed lips

Having been beaten, or having been kissed.

Mouths full of rage sizzling like hot oil in cast iron pans, bruised and missing teeth.

When they bash me and the ones I love, I spit burning blood into the sky, raining acid stars upon their up turned, confused faces.

By the time you have seen this, it will be too late. I will eat you alive, I am not afraid to be a monster.

I dare you to forget what I have done in their names.


JADE ARIANA FAIR
Jade Ariana Fair is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist, community healer and a conjurer of dense, celebratory worlds tinged with melancholy. Working across painting, performance, sound, and installation in Oakland, CA, Jade’s art sits at the intersection of the material and immaterial. Her performances have been featured in SOMArts 2015 “The News” series in San Francisco and Oakland’s LoBot Gallery in 2016. Her visual work was included in the “SPIRIT” group show at Oakland’s Qulture Collective.  In June 2016, she debuted a solo show “Them Are Weavers” of mixed media paintings at Black Spring Coffee Company in Oakland, CA. Her collaborative performance and sound project Earthbound was profiled in the East Bay Express in September 2016. As a healing arts practitioner and arts educator, she has been invited to share her practice with youth at Bay Area Video Coalition, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, The Allied Media Conference, and Peñasco Theater Collective Youth Arts Camp in Peñasco, New Mexico. She has read her written work in the 2016 “The Hundy” Series at E.M. Wolfman General Bookstore in Oakland. She dreams of rivers and they pool at her feet. Her work can be found at www.jadearianafair.com

Erasure

By Anonymous

I wanted to erase every memory of him ingrained within the groves of my skin. My dress slipped to the ground and I slid into the tub. My fingers grabbed onto the crystal and slowly turned the faucet. Pushing the limit, I allowed the water’s heat to scald my skin. The heat did not delay from stinging my bareness. A crimson hue flushed my fairness. After some time, the skin grew accustomed to the water’s harshness.

The blades inched around my tips. I enjoyed the hardness of the metal in my hand. Grabbing my long strands, pulling my long strands, I carved. And I wounded. And I chopped the black, silk locks he once ran his fingers through. They fell onto the waves and drifted around me.

The purifier lathered between the gaps of my finger. I gradually rubbed it against my limbs. I wanted to purge his scent from every cavity. Every fracture. Every breach.

Frustrated, I scrubbed harder and faster, an anger was surging through every nerve. I scratched away at my weakness. My hands traced their way to the edges between my thighs and scoured. My nails scraped at the softness of my mounds. My fingers ripped at my unchaste lips. I clawed at every part of my existence that he corrupted. I grinded and chafed till the softness peeled away and revealed an unscathed surface. It was new and virgin.

Frustrated, I scrubbed harder and faster, an anger was surging through every nerve. I scratched away at my weakness. My hands traced their way to the edges between my thighs and scoured. My nails scraped at the softness of my mounds. My fingers ripped at my unchaste lips. I clawed at every part of my existence that he corrupted. I grinded and chafed till the softness peeled away and revealed an unscathed surface. It was new and virgin.

This unseasoned layer easily burned from the boiling water. Blood snaked just beneath its face. The blistering pain marking scars was inferior to the relentless feeling of a soiled soul. Then euphoria reigned over me. His presence no longer endured on my body. I felt forgiven. Felt recreated. Felt absolved. I had hated every fraction he ever touched, kissed, licked, or fucked… I collapsed lower onto the cruel steel and sobbed.

I finally erased the ubiquity of his violence within every fragment of my being.

Sonnet MCLXXI

A poem by Tanaya Winder

Tanaya Winder is a poet, vocalist, writer, educator, and motivational speaker from the Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations. She received a BA in English from Stanford University and after completing her MFA in creative writing from the University of New Mexico, she co-founded As/Us: A Space for Women of the World, a literary magazine publishing works by Indigenous women and women of colour. www.tanayawinder.com


 

Chief Lady Bird
Chief Lady Bird is a Chippewa and Potawatomi artist from Rama First Nation and Moosedeer Point First Nation, who is currently based in Toronto. Through her art practice, Chief Lady Bird uses street art, community-based workshops, digital illustration and mixed media work to challenge the lens that Indigenous people are often viewed through. Her work subverts the dominant culture’s frequent fetishization of Indigenous culture by highlighting the diverse experiences that we all come from.

3 Poems

By: Tenille K. Campbell

Illustration by Mia Ohki 

#962

your skin
smells of smoked salmon
tasting of tradition
culture
and land
you make me
gush
like rivers wild
I want you to explore
me
I want you to taste me
ride my river
feast from me
discover how I taste
like ceremony


#969
your fingers lace in mine
as you tell me about the hunting trips
shooting a moose
the ache in your shoulders
as you carve and carry flesh
from muskeg to campfire
to home to the cardboard-laden
kitchen floors of grandma’s and mama’s
aunts and cousins
sharp knives
glistening under weather beaten hands
as they finish
what you started
you lift my hand up
kiss my open palm
I tingle
wondering if you know
what kind of hunting
I’m doing right now

Tenille K Campbell
Tenille K Campbell is a Dene/Métis poet and photographer from English River First Nation, located in Northern Saskatchewan. Author of #IndianLovePoems, she is a firm believer is positive sexuality, sipping tea with her aunties and cousins, and is currently learning naughty words in many Indigenous languages – because decolonized love, ya’ll.

Mia Ohki
Mia Ohki is a Metis Japanese-Canadian artist, born in Connecticut, USA, and raised in Alberta, Canada. She presently lives and works between Edmonton and Calgary, AB. Mia primarily illustrates with black pen on white paper to convey ideas surrounding the social, feminine and cultural influences in her life, however her art is mostly influenced by her background, with Japanese and Metis culture frequently appearing in the subject matter.

Surrender to Memory

By Tanaya Winder


 

Tanaya Winder
Tanaya Winder is an educator and spoken word poet from the Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Mexico. Since then she has founded Dream Warriors, an Indigenous artist collective.

We Were Stolen

By Tanaya Winder 


 

Tanaya Winder
Tanaya Winder is an educator and spoken word poet from the Southern Ute, Duckwater Shoshone, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Nations. She holds a BA in English from Stanford University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Mexico. Since then she has founded Dream Warriors, an Indigenous artist collective.