Joshua Whitehead

REFLECTIONS ON LITTLE [BULLHEAD]

 

‘dublin dan’
was a fine, fine man—
& i wonder how much he
would pay me for a photo of 
my cock?  
i found dan’s name in a book
titled man—
itoba as I saw it from 1869
to date
along with a written note
& a photo pasted over the cover
“do you know him?”
it’s dated christ—
mas 1909:
“i wish you to live a hundred years
and i hope to live a hundred years
less a day
for i have no wish to live
when my old friend has passed away”
			    charles james
& if you curtail the ‘o’ in ‘old’, curs—
ive style, it almost looks like ‘red’
“my red friend has passed away”
       now that’s a story i can believe

i wonder if they were lovers?
this dan, this charles
which one was the top 
which the bottom?
which the christian?
which the red-skin?
& 106 years later
at christmas, yet
i still get in fistfights
at the band office
because i wear my pants too tight
all i want is my hand-out
same as anybody else

in the book
there are pictures
of old dead white men
who adorn their names
with hyphened honours
& split proper nouns to fill the page
(why do hyphens work for them?):
honourablesenatorturnerlieutenantgovernorarchibald&evenhisgracearchbishop
                                                         l  y   n    c     h
i have trouble telling them apart
the only significant difference
is the mutton chops
that frisk their faces
—& i like that word, mutton
(but i’m not supposed to want)—

there are photos of cpr,
a little school 
erect on the prairie
an ox plowing the field 
& kanji written in pencil on the page
questioning: what means constituency? 
little hearts & exclamation marks deco
“natives objected to his wearing purple”
i write back: AMI
but it doesn’t feel right for a book like this
i need to take out the M, 
AI means love 

i flip to a photo of
major-general cameron:
‘rielwasadangerouscrankhalflunaticitwasnotalwaysthesamepriestbutallspokealong
pacificlinesallaytheturbulenceinthemindsofthehalfbreedsitmustberememberedthat
thenativeswerebeinginstructedbytheirownspiritualadvisersandwouldnaturallybein
sympathywiththemtherewasonepriestafrenchmanandwhileiamnotawareofhispers
onalsympathywiththeuprisingofthenativesduringtheimprisonmentihavethoughthis
viewsratherradical; 
—my mother’s maiden name is cameron
& i think back to my french grandfather, rene 
who left me a roll of film
after he died—
it was the first time i met that part
of my f a m i l y 
‘we’ll catch up, we’ll talk, we will, i pro– ‘
white wishes, white lies
a minor benign falsehood
(benign being a gentle thing
that diseases, that kills)
twenty dollars & gas
station lollipops
wouldn’t feed a rez dog
never mind a grandchild—
       i give him muttonchops too

& sorry cameron
106 years later
i have not yet been allayed
& that must be remembered

i close the book,
put it back on the shelf
notice the harsh black tape
that still holds it together
the book is staining daily
it eats itself, simply 
its foxing
silly little thing
maybe in 100 years more
you’ll finally disappear

& that’s the real trick
ain’t it?

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
ahahahereiamhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
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hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahereiamahahahahahahahha
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
hahahahahereiamhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah
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ahahereiamshahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
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ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahereiamhhahahahahahahahahahahaha
                                                                    !

 


 

Joshua Whitehead is currently a graduate student at The University of Winnipeg and is pursuing a degree in Cultural Studies. His critical work has largely focused on tracing representations of Native and African North American cultural texts from the 19th to the 21st centuries. He is the former co-editor of The University of Winnipeg’s creative writing juice journal and is currently working as a co-editor for CV2‘s Poetry Lives Here: Young Poet Supplement. Joshua readily frames his critical and creative research as an overlapping dialogue – he strongly believes that poetry is an ample medium for disseminating social, theoretical, and political information via its possibilities for world-making, revisionism, and fostering conversation. In his spare time you may find him heedlessly watching reruns of Rupaul’s Drag Race, reading X-Men comics, eating copious amounts of Ambrosia apples, and writing persuasive essays about Nicki Minaj.

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