it’s all there inside us
believe your cousin you stupid boy
lessons in the least of creatures
sickness in the strongest
the blades of grass
crack in the concrete
why not hide together
child voice quiver
stay strong for each other
deny these cruel dogs that never stop eating
let go and come back
this answer inside
your teacher is my teacher
your god is my god
the inverse is an old kitchen table
ashtray soot where i take off and dream
two men circle the issue inside my head
no one tells the truth
i bled and died alone in a burned out basement i forgot existed
there is a path of green
and we are untethered for a moment
the older cousins are mustangs
and they preen in the sun
but i turn back
it is what i know
i know what is at the bottom of the well
quiet sloughs and long driveways
turn the world on its axis child
you are cold black coffee in an urn that hears voices from another time
mosom and nokom minding the baby
you’ll never stop crying for them
but i love you now my boy
you are free
i am here now
some know where ghosts are
Questions and Answers
Sarain Keeshig-Soonias is a Cree/Ojibwe writer residing in Vancouver, BC. Sarain’s poetry is inspired by his evolving relationship with intergenerational experience, (de)colonization, state sanctioned violence, trauma, spirituality and healing.
Is there a moment that inspired you to write poetry?
Reading There Is My People Sleeping by Sarain Stump when I was eight and then waiting another thirty years to begin writing. It remains the single biggest literary inspiration in my life and I have not read another poetry collection since.
Do you use any resources that a young poet would find useful (books, films, art)?
Pay attention to artists who would go hungry to create.
As a published writer, what are your tips or words of motivation to an aspiring poet?
- Go for walks often.
- Support and champion other artists but don’t worry too much about what they’re doing.
- Turn off your brain and trust something older when you write.
What inspired or motivated you to write this poem?
The spiritual void of colonialist rule and the fact that it’s easier to write than combat Canada’s violence with my own violence.
What did you find particularly challenging about writing this poem?
Thinking about my family back then and feeling untethered for a few moments.