Stone In My Shoe – The Poem

Composed for all of my Indigenous relations. We got this.

I have a stone in my shoe
and I can’t walk straight
and I’m sick to my gut
perhaps it’s something I never ate
perhaps it was the taro
held in leathery hands,
that guided me here through old seas to new lands
held in her belly, a gift from Hawaiiki
the taste upon my ancestral tongue,
that would have been a reminder
of their continuity in me

I have a stone in my shoe
And I can’t go on
I hear you say
you want to fix me
with a solution never meant for me
formaldehyde fixed versions of me
forlorn, pickled, measured
sitting on shelves
objectified, observed, preserved
in your solution
crafted by Kant, Locke and Descartes
but did you stop to think
that maybe you’re in this belljar with me

And sure, looking out through this crystalline colonial curvature
these self described bearers of enlightenment
may have all the answers
like breeding us out of existence
with theories of blood quantum
that reduce me to a walking pie chart
like the question of whether I’m even human
coming down to the colour of my skin
The Enlightenment Period was made to lighten you, period.

Darwin 1872:

“when civilised nations come into contact with barbarians the struggle is short… new vices are highly destructive… those who are most susceptible to its destructive influence are gradually weeded out , and so it may be with the evil effects from spiritous liquors as well as with the unconquerably strong taste for them shown by so many savages.”

So hear me out, it’s wild, savage even, I know
but maybe the problem isn’t me
Maybe I’m a native, grown perfectly poor
in a garden of weeds
maybe my toxicity is the fruit of the same seeds
planted by colonial universities
and we keep getting told:
“We’ll deal with that later…”
“Don’t play the race card”
“Don’t look back”
“Just walk on”
“Just walk on”
But my brother just walked off the edge
And I ain’t takin another step
Cause I got a damn stone in my shoe

Stop looking at me like I’m the problem waiting to be solved
Like my land was waiting to be sold
Like my ancestors were waiting to be vanquished
Like their children were waiting for colonial mischief
Like we ain’t already had 500 years of being told we are the problem
some kind of dark manifest destiny
existing for you to come save me
awaiting enlightenment by European philosophies
rooted in a Doctrine of Discovery
created to legitimise slavery
a tool to erase our native divinity

De Zurara 1450:

“And so the native African lot was now quite the contrary of what had once been… in that at home they lived like beasts, without any custom of reasonable being – for they had no knowledge of bread or wine, or shoe or cloth and only knew how to live in bestial sloth.
But as soon as they came to this land, and men gave them prepared food, their bellies began to swell, and for a time they were ill, until they were accustomed to the nature of the country, but some of them were so made that they were not able to endure it and died, but as Christians… they were very loyal and obedient servants, without malice.”

Yeah, maybe it was something I ate
Or maybe it was the lies that they fed
to retain me as a loyal and obedient servant
to the colonial economy
to contain me
in a box shaped like a reserve
a land block
a prison cell
a hospital ward
a movie screen

Preserved, in your formaldehyde solution
at that exact moment of invasion
forever exotic,
forever subdued,
forever subjected
to a colonial gaze
Not your dusky southsea maiden
Not your lovely hula hands
Not your savage haka peepshow
Did you know
that cultural appropriation
of our Moana was initiated in
the brothels of London
and we’ve existed within Euro-maginations
from then, til now
as sexually available commodities
there to be taken as they please
our ancestress deities
from our collective memory
But I hear her calling me
Calling me to sing her back
To say her name
To chant her words again
It’s time.

I got a stone in my shoe [stones]
and maybe that stone is you
and maybe we need to heal together
you, me, and our mother
She who has carried all ancestral truth through time
Let us share that truth
Like taro upon our tongues
Weeding out the colonially cultivated self-blame
Take what has been dismembered
and Re-member ourselves with the cadence of ancestral prayer
let the tonal salve of Hineraukatauri seek out the pain of generations
and draw it from your marrow
back into the belly
of she who holds us all
let’s resculpt
let’s renew
let’s radically rejoice in who we are
and who we have always been destined to be
seeds of chiefs
sown in the belly
of gods
the sum total of the interwoven love of thousands
Ara mai anō Hineteiwaiwa!
Ara mai anō Hinerauwhārangi!
Ara mai anō Kēkerewai!

It’s time to re-imagine
our full rematriation
to our waters
our lands
our plans
for joyous, thriving futures
defy colonial timelines and expectations
and surrender now to the pull of Hina mother moon
aligning our cycles to rhythmic tides and familial migrations
and listen, feel, see, sense the present
with our whole beings
to make sense of the universe again.
and reset our trajectory, here, now
on our own terms
in our own time
and re-emerge
proud, whole, marked, healed and healing
stepping into our roles as good ancestors
continuing their stories
and starting ours afresh
for nothing is ever lost
in this neverending series of new beginnings

Let us offer ceremony back
To what has been taken for granted
With each breath honour the inhalation of sky father,
Again, becoming one, with Earth Mother
In a constant cycle of life, within you
Each breath a gift of their reunion
Remelding the negative and positive
Within your whare wananga
As oxygen, blood, and flesh
Ranginui, Wainui, Papa-tu-a-nuku

Offer thanks
to sacred water
who carries Sky Father aloft to his love
A cooling nourishment for your inner eco-system
clearing the way for your righteous voice
to reach the sun
Salving joints that have borne the weight of injustice for too long
Presaturating your fully weeded garden
for the replanting of native medicine
cleansing our bodies
our minds
our spirits
beckoning us internally
to the external water cycles that connect
and land
Tuia i runga
Tuia i raro
Tuia i roto
Tuia i waho
Tuia te here tangata
Ka rongo te pō
Ka rongo te ao
Above, below, within, without
Becoming one
Becoming whole
Becoming present
Tihei Mauri Ora.

(aku mihi ki a: Karlo Mila, Rachael Rakena, Moana Jackson, Haunani K Trask, Diana and Mark Kopua)

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