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BWI

BWI

 

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

himself

 

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

12

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!

 

really

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.