love poem series

ka paǂkinin̓tik
there are things our women have taught me:

1. give generously without worrying where more will come from;
2. laugh deep and hard with each other more than you cry;
3. learn everything you can and teach it freely;
4. know where you are going and go all the way-get the doctoral degree, get on council, hell, don’t stop there, you can be nasukin-you can lead your nation;
5. speak softly walk gently rock your babies to sleep;
6. raise your voice in song or anger-never be silent in the face of injustice;
7. feed everyone, including yourself;
8. light the fires, call in the drums, join hands-you never know when you’ll need a friend-honour your relations;
9. share the good stories alongside the tough ones-share whatever story feels right, especially the sexy ones-on that note, fall in love and celebrate every orgasm;
10. hold your loved ones close and breath in the scent of them;
11. grieve loss as deeply as you love, without shame or fear;
12. carry the hearts of your sisters your grandmothers your daughters born or yet to come your aunties and nieces and cousins-carry them in your heart;
13. keep going. This is not the end.


a love poem to your great great grandmother

ka titinaǂa
the one that started it all
though i have a feeling you’d say
there was another before you

but this poem is for you
whose prayers were so strong
done in just the right way
hidden away in a drawer
for so many years waiting

for the right moment
the right granddaughter
the right ceremony
right is the wrong word for this
maybe i believe in
if only when i think of you

when i think of him
here with us
typing out his own love poems

thank you
for bringing all that you have
for saving my life
for sharing your family
your teachings
your presence

thank you for praying us here


a love poem to myself

oh, my dear
we’ve been through a lot
so much has changed

thank you
for not giving up
thank you
for giving some things up
thank you
for working to keep
relationships with so many
of the best damn people
in this world

thank you for learning
thank you for fucking up
thank you for

falling down sucked
especially that last time
but i guess
i should thank you
for getting back up

thank you for your poems
thank you for your smiles
thank you for the tears and
especially the laughter

thank you for the love

poems originally published on Smokii Sumac’s Facebook page January 20-23, 2017 (right around the time of Trump’s inauguration)

cleaning out the car

our car
it was once
that time we
drove to california

that year or two you
always drove
my license


that was a different car but
the consequences reached into this one typed onto the paper of an old abstract erased now from the new ones statute of
doesn’t work on memory

i hear my own heavy sobs
on the street that night
before thanksgiving
when the police officer asked me
if i wanted to die

if i was going to kill myself
and i lied

but then i called her
and she talked me down
like she always does

there’s that necklace that
looks like candy
from that place back home
probably not there anymore
the place i also bought that
yellow vintage dress

and im in the mountains
and it’s one of those nights that ran through til morning
four and a half pills and
needing my eyes uncrossed for me

theres still goldfish
in the crevasses
from the only thing i ate
in my cross country binge
leaving you
always leaving somewhere

i found an ancient half joint
in the bottom of the centre console
almost put it to my lips
wanting to blow the car away
like smoke

thought better of it
laughed at myself
kept one of the feathers
put the other in the tree outside
offered semaa to
the memory

i threw the joint into the garbage bag
along with those
memories from california
the hotel receipt from that
one weird night
in sacremento
that couple addicted to the claw machine
sliding coin after coin inside trying to win a glassy eyed overstuffed animal trying to grab a hold of something and us thinking it was so messed up while i went to the bathroom to do another line and a man threw dollar bills on the floor for the waitress to pick up

it was once our car

then I slowly untwist the beaded eagle from ka titi
think of my great auntie who sold me this car
think of my dad who helped me pay for it
think of my mom who gave me these beads
think of the rez that this car actually never came from because auntie was a bill c-35 indian

think of the many faces bodies spirits breaths sobs scars fingers toes dogs and of course miss magoo

it carried us all
got us from there to here

for that
my car
i thank you.