Stories They Better Not Sound

Posted by admin on Apr 22nd, 2011

“Stories They Better Not Sound” performed by David James Hudson in the 4 minute round of the 2011 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championships in Vancouver, BC on April 21, 2011. (c)David James Hudson 2011

Stories They Better Not Sound

The sharpest paper edges carved the phrase “ILLEGAL BODIES” into gravestones cut from the earth of exile and survival. And it is a polite violence – one of stacks of documents stamped with innocuous definitions of suspect and citizen like the sizzle of metal on these dark skins that were once marked in markedly unremarked ways for cotton markets and fields of cane, an illegality forged through lying silence like rickety ships on shorelines like conscripts to white norms – like
laws through hammers on nails through hands – like nails through frames through subdivisions through land. And it damns, like “Who crossing seas?” Like “Who crossing deserts?” Like “who crossed the “t”s and who dotted the “i”s and signed off on free trade of homelands for aid trickles and bulldozers for burial grounds? And it damns like stories they better not sound.

And all the while it sounded.

It seemed like these polite paper pushing paper cut and compartmentalizing divisions and subdivisions between terrorist and trustworthy might win.  Like the lines on these most colonial post-colonial maps and rabid headlines were somehow something more than lines in the sand. Like the shouts of lynch mobs would never end, echoing transpacific feedback loops off the hulls of MV Sun Sea and Komagata Maru.

But bodies, they were not made to be defined in terms like “illegal.” And we will not forgive nor forget the unforgiving and forgetful letter of the law – all their border talk that can’t quite capture the tattered fences of our accents and our unpredictable skin, stretched like a canvas that can never be framed, the asymmetries and b-side/flip-side of our faces that lay waste to these racial profiles, that lay bare the fault lines of empires in pen strokes and empires in one-click shopping.

And just as our bodies bend, these laws beg to be broken.

So let these dry brittle paper regimes crumble to dust as we take hand into calloused hand, soothing bodies bruised by gavels, as our welcomes prove more than empty, where our ears meet our tongues meet our memories – histories persisting through particles of partial stories pushed across pages and kitchen tables, translating “sanctuary” into “home”.

There are those of us who know that the blood in the fields is the blood in our veins; and the salt in the wound isn’t all that remains of our impossible anger at implausible angles.

There is warmth in our hands as tear turns to torn and there are piles of ripped paper somewhere (some worn). We are more than defeated: we are CORPSE becomes CORPS.  We are more than cracked walls and always more than laws.

David James Hudson

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