Poetry from Living in the Tall Grass

By Chief R. Stacey Laforme

Prologue, Understanding

Living in the Tall Grass is a statement of the challenging life that I have led and it also speaks to my connection to our Mother the Earth. The front cover of this book talks about an Indigenous perspective and I guess that is true, as I am an Anishinaabe man. Yet I consider my poems and stories to be universal. I write with the intent to place myself in the heart and soul of different individuals at different stages of their lives. If you can see yourself in the poems, then my intent was a success.
When I write, I become the character in the poem for the length of the poem. I may be happy, I may be sad, yet as soon as the poem is over it no longer owns me, and I no longer own it.
I will use this book to try to raise awareness of reconciliation but it is important that you begin with the basic understanding that reconciliation, in its broadest terms, speaks to understanding the world around us and understanding our place within it.

The Day the Earth Cried
The Earth cried yesterday
And no one listened
They saw but they didn’t care
They knew but they didn’t stop
They watched, they were appalled
but they watched
They filed letters, they said excuse me
that’s wrong
They told their friends, this is wrong
And the friends said yes this is wrong
And the government said it will be okay
And the people said, yeah maybe so
And the Earth cried
And the people watched
And hurricanes happened
And the weather turned treacherous
And the Earth cried
And the people watched
The oceans and seas turned against man Everywhere in the world weather
attacked man
And the Earth cried
And the people watched
And one day the people died
And the Earth cried and nobody watched.


From Hell To Here
I cry and beg and plead to stay
Through unheard tears they drag me away
My parents stand helpless with their heads hung low
Through unspeakable pain they weep as I go
Into a room of pain and fear
Children all ripped from a life they held dear
A child of six, I awake from a horrible nightmare
With no one to comfort me, with no one to care
An adult creeps in, I listen and I pray
While another child has innocence stolen away
The nights are long and hard to take
I hear the others cry, as I lay awake
Some are taken from this evil room
Never again seen, and never gone home
I see you late at night when you think we are in bed
Dragging away bodies of the recently dead
Though the nights are evil and drawn
A fresh new terror comes with the dawn
You beat me and beat me until blood glistens
This is the only way to get savages to listen
I speak in words that my elders taught me
Whipped and abused so that I could see
My language is heathen, English is best
My life is evil, and evil must be put to rest
My beliefs are wrong yours are right
My culture stolen by the force of your might
Forced to live this way of life
Peace could come at the end of a knife
No! My people survive and learn how to cope
While there is life there is a future, there is hope
Today is here, that life is my past
But the memories and lessons you taught me will last
Your society sees me as a burden and a waste
An Indian you view as a disgrace
But the next time you judge and you
consider your stats
I am what you made me, now you live with that.


Nothing Grows in the Shadow
Perfect and innocent is the way life began
Lonely and afraid is how
I might end
I lived my childhood without a care
Until the beginning of a
private nightmare
I love the first rays of light
But how I hate the horror of night
I didn’t know where to go or what to do
A mother who looked away and
a father who is you
I live with such guilt and shame
But I shouldn’t own it
I wasn’t to blame
Though I am grown and hold my head high
A shadow of a man still
traps me inside
I never became the soul
I should have been
Because nothing grows in the
shadow of a fiend.


Highway of Tears
I walk this path with so many others
But I walk it alone
I travel this road with those who have need
Together, side by side
We find small comfort in our shared resolve
We seek a common goal
At the end of our journey lies truth
Truth must be enough
For there will be no justice, no recompense
Nothing and everything would be too little
We have lost the greatest gift the creator can bestow
A mother, a sister, a daughter, a wife
So we continue our walk toward the truth
One painful step after another
The answer will come, the truth will come
Too little too late
We will reach our destination
But the journey never ends.

Info about Living in the Tall Grass

UPROUTE Imprint of Durvile Publications
POE011000 - POETRY / Canadian
5.5” x 8.5” | 160 pages
Book Two in the Every River Poems Series
ISBN: 9781988824055 | Price $19.95 Canada
Audiobook version also available
Book release date, January 28, 2018

Individuals: Ask your bookseller or buy online.
Booksellers: Order through University of Toronto (UTP) 

Guest Post