Writing Workshop: I Am From by Joseph D.


I am from the land of fish, water and sky

The land is green and abundant with trees, though they’re

only a few metres high. There are lichen and willow, ducks, snow and geese.


I am from a home where the northern lights glow, the

summer days are long six months to be sure. The kids play

from early summer to early fall.


Oh, how I miss fish guts, caribou marrow and bannock

cranberry jam to boot,

condiments you say.

Pass the lard and salt if you will please.

Bear grease and blueberries if you please.


Awa! is jee ah nest’s. Where’s the zeem?

Play cowboys, Indians and I want to be John Wayne, found

’em up saddle,

Time’s a wastin’

Crack Henry you wanna make a few bucks,

some Samba and make a run for us

Same ol’ stuff

St. George’s please.


Hutsiel-ke, Rocher River,

Bescho nena—USA in English

Riel, Sus-cho

Chief Big Bear Dené

Heroes of certainly not the written word

Oral history is where it’s at on

the Moccasin Telegraph.


Custer they say

had it coming.

I think this is true.

Crowfoot was a sucker

but a good Injun.


I am from the land of endless day

night at fall of crimson sky

until the northern lights start to play and that is when

the trout will dance upon the water for you,

the loons will waltz for you

and the bull-moose will fight for you,

assuming you know how to call them.


Our fridge is abundant with food

of the land in spring.

Duck, goose eggs, water fowl

of every kind

on their annual Northern migration

from far off warm places with names

I can’t even name in my language,

the tongue of the Chipewyan-Denesoliné.

Bannock and hard make

Indian hard they say

That true is true

for my Grandpa told me so.


Oh! It’s winter time now

Hitch up the dogs, ready the sled

are my moccasins ready?

Have my gun, matches, can of snuff

Dry meat, tea and good ol’ lard can

Got my grill

C’mon hi-ya-coo-tah

Time’s a wastin’ the wind feels good

-40° below in my face and the wind at my back

Crack goes the rifle

OK Joe, shoot one get the other one Alex

While I reload. Grandpa and Granny are gonna eat good tonight.

I think it’s Hank Williams time

and the Red River jig.

Strum, strum, and off to bed we go.

The airtight aglow

Full stomach warm blanket

the jokes are done.

Thank you, Creator, for another day.


When I was young.


Joseph is a participant in Megaphone’s community writing program held at Onsite—the treatment centre above Vancouver's safe-injection site.


Photo by monkeyatlarge


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