Friday, June 08, 2018

Refugia: The Ontario Election, the Griffin Prize, Billy-Ray Belcourt, and a poem about rage.

The news in the current Ontario election is terrible, but the news from the Griffin Poetry Prize—that Billy-Ray Belcourt won the Canadian prize (and his heartfelt speech) was such a salve. This is the Canada I want, not what happened in this election. My friend, the artist Svava Juliusson, asked me to "Write me a poem about trying to hold on to the rage (that other place), the alternative is seductive (a future gone)." Here's a first attempt, a beginning of something perhaps. The poem is after Billy-Ray Belcourt's Ode to Northern Alberta with awe and admiration and, I hope, with non-appropriative humility. Thinking and learning about how the body -- the queer Indigenous body certainly, but also any body -- is embodied, embodies history, time, and power relations.


“the future is already over…that doesn’t mean we don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Billy-Ray Belcourt

Here, no one is ready

for the morning’s fist
I kill myself

likening myself to the physical
or the future
We worship the act of worshipping

the difference between
get used to getting used to it
and burning that shit down

My body imagines what isn’t there
tremors a nest of bees in a beatless heart
We wrap our rage in a warm bed

set the house on fire
Now we can’t tell the difference between
a warm bed and a burning house

Look to the smoke
The sky is not near
a forest made of ash and smoke

and yet we build houses
history made of ash and smoke
and yet love and anger survive

I refuse the body they give me
or the names for the space around it
I refuse the mind
this morning, evening, burning day



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