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J28: A poem by Rita Wong

January 28, 2013

by Rita Wong

last year, i never imagined we would be


round dancing in Glenmore Landing

round dancing in Chinook Centre

round dancing in Olympic Plaza

round dancing in Metrotown

round dancing in West Edmonton Mall

round dancing outside the Cayuga courthouse

round dancing on Akwesasne

round dancing on Strombo



mahsi cho!



drumming at Waterfront Station

drumming at the United Nations

drumming at Columbia University

drumming at Granville & Georgia

drumming at Dalhousie University

drumming at the Peace Arch

drumming on Wellington Street

drumming on Lubicon lands

drumming in Owen Sound

drumming in Thunder Bay

drumming in Somba K’e

drumming in Chicago

drumming in Chilliwack

drumming in Kitimat


taking a much needed pause for thought

on tarsands Highway 63

on the 401

on CN rail tracks

with Aamjiwnaang courage

a human river on Ambassador Bridge

time to stop & respect

remember we are all treaty people

unless we live on unceded lands

where rude guests can learn to be better ones

by repealing C45, for starters


we have to stand together in many places all at once

J11, J16, J28

Indigenous spring

Eighth Fire summer

autumn wisdom

winter sleep to

renew Indigenous spring

again & again


it is Gandhi we need to align ourselves with

Gandhi and Gaia and Vandana and Maude and marbled murrelets and mycorrhizal mats

Winona and Ward and Jaggi and Arundhati and phytoplankton and peregrine falcons

Naomi and Oren and Toghestiy and Jeannette and Lee and bittermelon and bees

Percy and Shiv and Jack and Elizabeth and chrysanthemum greens and canola, now radiated

Yoko and Yes Men and Chrystos and Dionne and dolphins and prairie dogs

Theresa and Melina and Pamela and Rosa and salmon and cedar

Wab and Harsha and Clayton and Eriel and eider ducks and water bears

Takaiya and Roxanna and Glen and David and wolves and whales                                                              

there is a time for pies and there is a time for rocks and beavers and snowy plovers

there is a time for poems and a time for rifles and coral reefs and caribou

there is also a time for the Haudenosaune Wampum Belt

two rivers running side by side

(as long as one party doesn’t try to dam and mine and kill the other’s river)

and a time for spinning wheels

it is Super Barrio, who stopped 10,000 evictions in Mexico, who I look to

it is the Zapatistas, the Mohawks, the KI, the Lhe Lin Liyin

the Mother Earth Water Walkers, the 20-year-olds suddenly in Parliament, the grannies and the grandkids

it is the children I will never see, but who I hope will live and drink clean, wild water


with gratitude to Chief Spence, whose life I celebrate and honour


Rita Wong is the author of three books of poetry: sybil unrest (co-written with Larissa Lai, Line Books, 2008), forage (Nightwood 2007), and monkeypuzzle (Press Gang 1998). She is an Associate Professor in Critical + Cultural Studies at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design, where her work investigates the relationships between contemporary poetics, social justice, ecology, and decolonization. She is a member of the Editorial Review Board of Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2013 5:36 am

    Reblogged this on aesmithwriter and commented:
    Rita Wong, thank-you for this poem. It reminds me what poetry is made for (not contests, not good reviews, not your colleagues’ esteem).

    • February 7, 2013 12:51 am

      thanks for your comment! it’s been heartening to witness how IdleNoMore invites us to build the eighth fire together, creatively

  2. March 27, 2013 11:26 am

    Thank you. This poem makes me believe in poetry and love. From the UK Idle No More is not getting enough coverage. I am working on it… from where I’m looking, your energy, dancing, drumming, courage, fight, intelligence, sophistication is clear and unfettered. Congratulations, keep going

  3. conscience of the university permalink
    January 17, 2015 11:17 pm

    Thanks Laura! Sending you lots of good energy!


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