i’d say “i’ll be back” but i never intend to leave

when i go out for dinner with my boyfriend

i worry about many things:

about the threat of men

hetero & homonormative

about the threat of race

& the two-tiered energy

i expend as a bifurcated canadian

& i worry about the dessert he wants to order

“what’s wrong?” he’ll ask

as i lament the decay of a chocolate lava cake

of course i order too

miniature, a la carte, gluten-free

splenda-infused quinoa oats

rolled into a picarone no peruvian

will ever be able to afford again

but i’m sick of this script

so i eat a slice of cake

& purge it in his toilet when we get home

make sure i wash my mouth

so as not to corrode his cock

because i’ll need it later

when i need an ejection of confidence;

i expend my energy

always to make another happy—

& even my most liberal lovers

police my nipples & straighten my hair

expect me to look like

booboo stewart & taylor lautner

when they undress me

they want beaded fringe

sunburnt flesh; windburnt braids

a body odour that smells less like fermentation

more like a sweet[ER]grass 

that’s been smudging since reconciliation

never expect to see an underfed

brown boy whose body is riddled with marks

s t  r   e    t     c      h       i        n         g

back to pre-contact dates

can’t they see my consumption is in the bone?

don’t they see my brethren rolling 

themselves in wheelchairs down portage[s]

there is no river to roll here

(sorry tina turner)

we’re too busy getting turnt up

instead they see voyageurs

with painted-on beards 

& a metis sash

from a manitoban museum

re-enacting retromania

lumbersexual hipster liberalism

dreaming of the fur trade

in the twentyfirstcentury

as if our prison commissary wasn’t enough

here i am smothering beneath your weight

here i am self-destructing beneath my breath

here i am tasting your cock

with every orifice your wallet can afford

tell him: watch me transform

watch my limbs morph into grammar

language becomes syntactical tactics for transfiguration

my body infects yours

with numbers, with language, with words

i can be a tyrant with a lacerating tongue

i can be a cyborg imperialist erasing your narrative

i can be so many things

& here you are as one

beneath me

sad little cock having tasted

the smoke of a dying fire

& burned its head retreating

so here is my body

do with it as you will

when his dick stiffens in his pants 

& his hands run up my calves

i let myself become my disco-divas

moan like donna summer

“love to love you baby”

grind like candi staton

let my “young heart run free”

in the gentrified ghettos of osborne

extend my legs like grace jones

“man-machine, power-line”

slaves to the rhythm 

of his breath, his expectation

& when we watch hbo

i see myself in the black-mirror

distorted between commercials 

for gilette & axe body spray

here i’m loras tyrell

here i’m the hole in renly baratheon

here i’m cersei lannister

here i am a sparrow

here i am in chains

here i am made of metal

that intoxicates my veins


here i am walking home

body stung & glowing red

here i walk home

in the dismal grey of seven a.m.

down portage street in his tee

pink floyd’s prism on 

the city i call home quickly becomes un—

canny when i have no money

when i do not act polite

when i un:         \ s /

the game of my superior    / e \

& here portage bars its doors        \ t /

bares its teeth at me                                / t \

lets me know                                                     / t \

through the hum & roar                                             \ l /

of its streets                                                                  / e \

that i can die here too

this is my walk of shame

sometimes i see myself 

looking at myself

in the reflection of the unfee

think: here i am

in the jaundice yellow liver haze

of a saskatchewan fire

this is the wasteland

total recall; i|I?

while the prairie landscape burns

i pretend i’m sarah connor

burning in the playground

the name has been taken away

as my skin hue lightens in day

i am the cyborg tonto indianess

scalping frackers, claiming land

i can be a residential terminator

here are my teeth; my trc

instead i wake up arrested

with the anxiety of c51

here i am a mean girl

formulating theories

chaos theories of good intentions

that if you mix the benevolence

behind bill c31 & c51

you may get a voucher

for an extra generation

a bogo sale for cfs

can’t you tell its reigning?

why do i always have to be respectful?

tip-toeing around the sensibilities

of your illusionary trauma

go fuck yourself

how’s that for respect?

literally too

you could use a good come—u







Joshua Whitehead is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in literary studies at the University of Calgary. He identifies himself as an Oji-Cree two-spirit individual from Peguis First Nation. When not reading X-Men comics and eating copious amounts of Ambrosia apples, he writes poetry. You can find his work published in Prairie Fire, Lemon Hound, Manitoba First Nation Educational Resource Centre, juice, Geez Magazine, and the rip/torn Collective.