Mar 18, 2014 - “I love My People” by Mark K Tilsen


“I love my people because they are mine,

we wake up
with a little bit of Rage Against the Machine
screaming in our heads
“fuck you I won’t do what you tell me!”

I love my people
because with a gun pointed at our heads
We were told to assimilate or die
and we said No,

We don’t have the same god as you
Taku Skan Skan
that which moves all things
and movement is holy

I love my people
we are infatuated with ourselves,
The proudest people you have never met
and the only folks who insist
on telling you how humble we are.
We are humble as fuck.

lakotas killed Custer,
we captured his flag,
gouged his ears with awls
so in the next life he can hear
we get really literal
make metaphors real

Your flag is not mine
My mom was a teen at wounded knee in ‘73
Federal Marshals came
fired bullets

she learned to shoot a thirty-ought with arthritic hands
she’s been in pain since i’ve known her

I love my people
and we are scarred
when we feel we don’t have enough of ‘em
we have the guts to give ourselves more,

We carve our wrists in declaration
jump into gangs with heated knives to our shoulders

we give flesh as an offering of prayer
We spit rhetoric to fill our bellies when the prayers don’t work

we balance feeling worthless
with knowing of all the people of the Earth
we are the best,

we kicked down doors, because we sacred,
because we think in circles and

really dig it when white people say stuff like
“culturally appropriate application of….”
If you hear that in a meeting
it means you’re going to get funding

I love my people because we know how to hustle,
do that special alchemy that turns government cheese into gas money
even though life at times is not worth living
we solider the fuck on,

family is life,
right or wrong
they’re your beating heart

I hate my people
I hate my people because we die
we die young, we die stupid, we die hard

Everything becomes a got damn metaphor for how it was
we don’t crash cars
we wrap our war ponies around sacred trees going 90

At the Battle of Little Bighorn
Sitting Bull said today is a good day to die
But messages dilate over time
the distance between here and then has left us confused
we forget about today
we forget about good
we are left with, “die
and we’ve been marching on those orders ever since

I love my people
One day
we will know us
by more than the trail of our dead

— Mark K Tilsen

Last Real Indians