First Nations Poetry Magazine: Poetry by Melanie Garant

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Poetry by Melanie Garant

Around the Third Barrel
Cowboys and Indians
Published July 3, 2016

Around the Third Barrel

Laboured breathing,
Drugs pushed in.
Laboured breathing,
Mask slapped on.
He fights to breathe, he fights to survive,
My dad’s 60 years on this earth have been an adventure.
He’s a dog sledding, horse riding, macho man.
Everyone seems to know Roland.
“Your dad is a great guy”,
“Never says a bad thing about anyone”,
“Honest to the core”.
My sister says dad is her hero,
He’s my hero too.
He’s superman with a cowboy hat instead of a cape.
A cowboy boot wearing, pickup truck driving superhero.
We sit around talking and crying,
Away from his hospital room.
And I say “Fuck cancer!”
We go back and sit vigil,
Waiting for a change,
Bad or good, we wait.
I hold it together the best I can,
Tears roll down my cheeks when no one is looking.
Family come and family go,
Friends come and friends go.
All of them saying what they need to say,
Not knowing if they will see him again.
Every hug goodbye for the night tears me apart.
Not wanting him to suffer,
Not wanting him to go.
I talked to my mom today,
Asking her to greet him when he crosses over.
Lucid moments here,
Incoherence there,
Time slips away with each laboured breath,
Soon, too soon, he will take his last breath,
And I will say goodbye,
To my dad,
To my hero,
To the best man I have ever known,
I love you dad.

Cowboys and Indians

I don’t want to understand the world today,
Instead I want to be a kid,
I want to run and laugh and play.

I don’t want to talk politics,
Instead I want to be comfortable in the false knowledge of my own personal

I don’t want to know about the wars going on – who’s bombing who based
on self-serving excuses,
Instead I want to consume my safe … drinking … water.

I don’t want to think about the fact that Aboriginal people are
overrepresented in Canadian prison populations today,
Instead … I want you to play the cowboy to my Indian.

I want you to colonize me,
I want you to rape my mind and my body,
I want you to force your religion on me while destroying my culture,
I want to embrace you,
My own … Christopher … Columbus.

I want to be beat down and disgraced,
I want to hate my own race,
I want to give my life to you.

Now … that I’ve said everything that you wanted to hear … I’m going to tell
you my truth.

I care about the world today, about the devastation that is being inflicted
upon Mother Earth.

I care about the fact the politicians are using their white laws to continue a
patriarchal rule over my people.

I pay attention to the wars going on in other countries,
Taking note in preparation for a civil war on Canadian soil.

I do my part each day to lower the number of Aboriginal people incarcerated
in Canada.

I refuse to play the Indian that you want me to be.
I will fight each day to break the chains of my ancestors’ colonization.
I will yell rape(!) each time I see an injustice take place against my brothers
and my sisters.

I will return to the teachings to restore my culture

I won’t be beat down,
I won’t be disgraced,
And I will never hate my own race!

Instead of giving you my life … my acceptance … my shame …… I will give
you my defiance!!


It’s like a pin prick bleeding freely,
Tearing and burning into your soul,
Crying and moaning,
Drowning in a lonely sea of sadness,
Reaching out and grasping,
Only to slip again,
Into a void of vastness and nothingness,
Staring at the eyes, staring back, staring back,
Running slowly forever,
Eternity sits on the edge of the cliff,
Conscience on the verge of death,
Burning lungs and breaking heart,
Tears turning blood red,
The emptiness inside engulfing,
What is the last speck of sanity,
Helplessly going out of your mind,
To be gone forever,
Never to return.

Melanie Garant is a Mohawk woman of the Turtle Clan.  She also has Irish
and French blood.  She has written poetry from a young age in order to
express herself, to bring about awareness and to advocate for change.      
Topics dear to Melanie include the reality of Indigenous people in Canada,
living with bipolar disorder and living with Fibromyalgia.  Melanie began her
spoken word journey at the first Canadian Spoken Wordlympics which were
held in Ottawa in 2004.  She wrote her first spoken word piece, "Cowboys
and Indians" at the Wordlympics and performed as part of the newbie set.
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