Us and Them

Why is it always us and them?
I don’t think I’m guilty of perpetuating a cycle,
forcing my fellow blood to join hands and just circle round and round like a

I have never drummed and drummed into your ear or theirs,
that you people just wouldn’t understand us.
So best to leave us to our own little piece of grass.

I’ve painted plenty of fences but never any faces.
Nobody can accuse me of causing a war among our nations;
my words are not misleading, they’ve always been straight as an arrow.

No, I see it as us and them because the laws have made it so,
not judicial but natural.
Obliged to offer a nod to a passing Indian

A cute native girl will smile my way and I’ll smile too,
we aren’t flirting because I fancy her race and she fancies mine.
She needs to know that if the world suddenly turns, that I’m on her side.

I see beggars on the streets everyday and I’ll dig in my pocket when asked,
but when I see trembling hands at the sight of low down natives,
I make sure I dig a little deeper when he stumbles cold and lonely towards me.

Excuse me if I’ve thrown around the concept of us and them
and I made you feel guilty by association.
I wish it was just us, but until then I’ll write for them.

~ Daniel N. Poitras

Daniel N. Poitras currently resides in the tunnels of Edmonton Transit System only emerging to barter his many stylish beaver pelts and read at various places where they either offer him virgin sacrifices or cheese & crackers.

“Home to me is the place you’re willing to claw, bite and burn for. What inspired the poems is my reserve, the Paul First Nation. It’s a dysfunctional home, filled with neglectful parents, cruel brothers and sisters, and love and pride you can’t drink away.”

Read more of Daniel N. Poitras’s poetry:
Hank Williams’s I Saw the Light
Don’t Let Them Take Me

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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