Sto lat

My people originated in the nomad valleys of Croatia
and the warm thatched rooves of Poland.
My ancestors speak through the wounds of
simple villagers and the broken language of
the diaspora of that land.


My brothers are artists and poets,
they’re silly with ears as big as their noses
and eyes that play prisms with the sun,
with bellies an endless well for ale.


We all know it can be as filling as bread in a pinch.
It can be as warm as love when one is without.
It can be an answer in a world void of logic
when we are being taken away
to be worked to the death or killed on sight.


My sisters are soft wombs with lovely hair
and tongues made of the wet and tender
red of forgiveness.


My sisters and I are witty and funny
with the weight of our truth
turned a black rock in our bellies-
shifted around with our other organs
in order to make room for the babies,
and it is our holiest right.


Our mother is hardened by the taste of too much of that.
Our mother has seen what happens to a defiant bitch.
Our mother wants to save us.
Our mother wants to save us,
but she can’t.

My people are fair but we are not regal-
we wish a hundred years of happiness and health to you.


My bones are full of holes like kitschy Christmas baubles,
and they know something about Jesus in that
he is what our fathers were told was
the same thing as the old gods,
whose names we have forgotten.


My people wore traditional dress,
and danced in the hills,
in the trees
and worked the land.
My people knew potatoes, fish and crops.
My foremothers sewed beads to gowns
they weaved by hand.


The parents of my foremothers
braided their beautiful hair until
the night of their wedding, when they cut it all off,
and it was an honor.


My people feared the evil beyond the tree line, and evil it certainly is.


I am the daughter of
a thousand silenced women,
who had never a choice or voice,
but fearful pride in what they did
for the innocent children and our beloved men.
I am the daughter of a thousand men
whose hearts swelled
with laughter and love and music and poetry.
So big that it was like seeing a stranger naked,
and the English laughed-
and the laughter rings on.


My people play accordion in the bingo halls of Milwaukee,
my sisters are a fine slavic treat for the wandering male gaze
and it crushes our tender bodies every time.


My brothers are silly drunks
who have forgotten about the swelling in their hearts,
and I’d like to join them.


Our farms and rivers, warm humble hovels,
and sacred traditions are cuckolded
in the gift shops,
and you can buy them for a reasonable price
if you have a stomach for such superstition.


Our skin is fair but we’re not regal-
we wish a hundred years of happiness and health to you.


In the name of the old gods my grandmother called Jesus.
In the name of the shining faces of the children.
In the name of our swollen bellies
and the forgotten swollen hearts of our sacred men.


My people are here in the shadows of Mt Rainier
grimacing numb through another generation of destruction.
My people are baking under the sun
which hangs low in the Arizona sky-
a place that was someone else’s home,
a place where we never belonged.
My people play dungeons and dragons in
sweaty Midwest basements,
but there’s no home for us under this new sky.

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