8 years old

he’s had more foster homes

than birthdays


the total area

of the pattern of his bruises

is greater than the area of


his skin

says a lot about him

or at least more than people

(will ever)

give him a chance to say



There’s a banner on the wall

filled, floor to ceiling

10 ft by 20 ft, all names

of those killed

(violently, of course)


15 years, 20 years, 8 years,

11, 14, 16


9 months


and they beat him

and beat him

and knocked out his teeth


and he spit them back out


a great big mouthful

of teeth

and blood

(and the AIDS virus, of course)


and they charged him with assaulting an officer

with intent to kill


Victim Convicted Guilty of BWI

(Breathing While Indian)


people choking

on backed up generations

on clenched fists

on ugliness

on blood


on their own blood


(Spitting out mouthfuls of blood and teeth

don’t look now, officer

but you’ve got some red on your face)


he was an artist


he wanted to learn

to play the drums


she wanted to be there for her sister


but that’s just what happens

in those neighbourhoods


it’s not their fault


but the parents

the pimps

the gangs

(the ignorance)

(the negligence)

(the genocide)

that environment!



I mean

it’s really too bad


but what can we do?


have they considered

I mean

have they considered

trying to be white?


© – Holly McKenzie-Sutter


Photography by Marc Massie. To view more of Marc’s work or to contact him, click here.