It’s Not My Home

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

flee 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

why hide

why hide

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

forgive me

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?

  1. Go for walks often.
  2. Support and champion other artists but don’t worry too much about what they’re doing.
  3. 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.


This poem “It’s Not My Home” originally appeared in Canadian Literature 248 (2022): 118-119.

Please note that works on the Canadian Literature website may not be the final versions as they appear in the journal, as additional editing may take place between the web and print versions. If you are quoting reviews, articles, and/or poems from the Canadian Literature website, please indicate the date of access.