Monday, October 8, 2018

My Columbus Day Poem

Officially in the United States, today is Columbus Day, celebrating the rapist, enslaver, torturer, and murderer who accidentally landed in the Caribbean while trying to find India. Apparently, not the brightest bulb on the planet, either. (This day used to be known as Lost Italian Day in my family.) 

In many cities and states, however, enlightened people have chosen to celebrate Indigenous People's Day, in honor of all those who were robbed of lands, killed, and enslaved by Columbus and those European invaders who followed his lead and of their resilience and that of their descendants.

As this holiday comes around again in our ever more divided nation--with many people who now say publicly that they would willingly emulate those people like Columbus who killed and enslaved Native people--here is my Columbus Day poem.

My Columbus Day Poem

Sometimes in the fall of the year,
men hit landfall
accidentally, men
who might as well be
ravening beasts
for they do more ravening
than any natural animals
who would be ashamed
to make welcoming people into slaves,
rape women and girls before killing,
set war dogs on naked unarmed
prisoners just for fun,
for the vicious excitement,
the sense of power.

Power, it’s always all about
power—and gold and sex and land
and power. Slavery
in the name of Catholic Christ
and empire. Land, millions of miles,
because no one else discovered
it, not even the millions living on it.
With a wave of a papal pen,
negate lives of nations,
make them resources like beaver,
buffalo, bear.
Solve inconvenient death
rates by ravaging
a different continent.
Looting Africa means no more
use for rebellious Natives.
Wipe them out.
Clear the continent
from sea to shining
and years later
with sales and parades.

Sometimes in the fall of the year,
I grow so tired
of anger and tears,
the bitter stink of history.

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