Poetry, by definition, is the literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature. But for these Native American youth, poetry is a safe haven for them to express themselves. Read through their raw, emotional works accompanied by truth and grace.
Here are four works of Native American high school students and up-and-coming poets of Browning High School Library Rising Voices Poetry Club in Browning, Montana. BHS Rising Voices Poetry Club is a club for students who like to read, write, and perform their own poetry. They work together to help one another through the creative process and end each year with a celebratory performance of their best work.
Poetry by indigenous students of NACA Radical Poetry:
I’m hoping you will perish,
Because I know you will grow tired of me.
This comment may astound,
But I hope you’ll find the happiness that you pretended to have found.
Do not fret,
For I want you to go.
I will not be upset,
Because there is no need to cry over someone who will laugh without you.
But know that until you,
I had a fascination with the color blue.
Then you came, staring at me.
With those lovely pools of brown.
In the end,
You were more than I could handle.
Poem by Maddalynn Whitright
I Am From
I am from the cleanse of a whispering creek,
Where his tide shrinks over time.
Silent, he speaks, but carries words forged like silver.
As dawn arrives, I am a man between the land and sky, built, tore down, and reborn.
I am the eyes arisen from the heavens,
And descended towards a path ahead of me.
Felled and blindfolded as darkness routed in my ocean,
Seen by my mother as she glanced in my eyes.
She saw my pain, my anger, my soul dripping from my cheeks.
I am a cycle of life,
A capacity unseen,
A path unknown…
Where light breathes an essence
And a voice hollers in praise.
Poem by Cody LittlePlume
Do you hear that?
The whistling sound of his wiffleball bat?
And the baseball flies so far.
Do you feel the soft breeze?
Along with the birds chirping in the trees?
Listen, they are singing.
Do you hear her speak?
When her soft voice creaks at the words she can’t pronounce.
Her face gets red, see? Listen. Shhh
Poem by Alexandrea Ground
Your stories touched the deepest depths of my heart
Your words were able to make me shiver and summoned genuine tears at the corners of my eyes
I am a Native Indigenous woman
Trauma runs deep within my history and in my life, in my veins
I supported you because you had the same experience
Because you are a Native Indigenous man
An author, a poet, and voice
A voice for Us
Someone had the power to speak for Us
And yet you have hurt your own people
You have given Us another bad reputation
Your own people
In a world where we aren’t taken seriously
In a world where we are laughed at
Your own people
I felt saddened when I heard the news
That you had these accusations
I was angry
I was full of rage
and I felt sick
I was not saddened by you losing awards and a reputation
I was saddened that so many women had been in silence for so long and that you got away with it for so long \
And you continued with a successful career, without a second thought for so long
Your books are on my shelves still, and some of your poems on my computer
But like so much of my media now, it feels weird to touch it
Poem by Peyote Mesteth Campos
This is your brain.
This is your brain on drugs.
This is your brain on drugs over easy.
This is your brain on drugs sunny side up.
This is your brain on drugs scrambled.
This is your brain on drugs, poached, resting atop an English muffin with Canadian bacon and hollandaise sauce.
Poem by Noah Berthelson
About BHS Library Rising Voices Poetry Club: This is a club for students who like to read, write, and perform their own poetry. We work together to help one another through the creative process and end each year with a celebratory performance of our best work.
Here are two works of Native American high school students and up-and-coming poets of Native American Community Academy (NACA) Radical Poetry. NACA Radical Poetry celebrates a robust ongoing poetry collective that spans across the middle school and high school grade levels. Students share their stories of celebratory cultural and Indigenous identities, languages, and traditions through the lens of poetry and spoken word. NACA poets continue to speak truth to power, challenge the dominant narrative, and celebrate Native identities all the while exploring the craft of poetry and spoken word.
Poem by Emily Jaramillo
dear fellow pissed-off indigenous kids,
if your conservative relatives threaten to punish you for protesting－
FUCKING DO IT ANYWAY.
they are not held responsible to begin the
redirection and healing they are so afraid of.
equality is manifesting into a neoliberal value
so if you’re here for reparations and decolonization－
please stand up.
dear mr. president,
you’ve had since 1993 to clean up your act regarding
your ever so intelligent thoughts
on indian blood and gaming casinos
do you not think that
‘they don’t look indian to me’
is a mantra that my brothers and sisters
hear every fucking day in seek of acknowledgement
or the simple right of living?
there is no justification for continuous genocide from people whom
then have the audacity to complain about immigrants
instead of realizing they are immigrants themselves
because in this society a white man can
take your job and call it manifest destiny
dear conservative asshole that had the nerve to cross me,
i’m in fact not smudging with sage
to cover up the smell of drugs
it’s called wellness
It’s called self care
It’s called don’t make assumptions
about me based on my culture
try it sometime, because it’s not my fault
the only smidge of ‘culture’ you have left to cling onto
is fox news, your fragile masculinity, and the 2nd amendment
－i dare you to shoot me
Poem by Emily Jaramillo
Poem by Taylor Harlan
Yá’át’ééh, shik’éí dóó shidine’é
Shí éí Taylor yinishyé
Dzi ł t ł’ahnii bashishchiin
Hashk’ąą hadzohi dashicheii
Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį́
Tʼiistsʼóózí déé’ naashá
My name is the distance in between..
The darkness that traps me in my own nightmares…
Taylor…plain and simple?
Or a complicated color wheel of emotion and abyss like depth…
When my looks became my name….Jackie Jr. they said…
You look just like your aunt they joked..
But this line of women..
My moms, my aunts and my grandmothers…
Stronger than the clouds of grey that hold my spirit hostage..
Devine like celestial goddesses…
My signature, and ever sighing sign of social stratification
A Belligerent battle to contain the demonic presence of my inner rationalizations
The riot that is tied to the history of this perplexing embodiment
An enchanting drum beat of anarchy
My name is screaming from my psyche for retribution
never being heard by this goddamn world,
As it yanks my very breath from my lungs
Engulfing my mentality in flames
And entangling my sanity in its rigid grasp
His curled hair and eyes like a dance through time
His presence the comfort and security of home
His voice the rhythmic stroke of an artist
Paints “panda” as an epithet of whimsy..
My name, the sketches of my imagination
The murky whisper of my desperate cries
The radiant glow of the sunset
Leisurely dragging over the mountains
And leaking through the trees like blood
Dancing out of the ripped seam along my skin…
Poem by Taylor Harlan