got her self
esteem resurrected
one fine evening
over at Louise’s

a holy rig
up her arm
into her brain
then the medicine
let her vomit out
years of fear
emotional poison
percolated out of her pores
and when she cleaned
herself out
the street looked
and her body felt
skinned deer fresh
she’s learned transformation
becomes one with
the sweet trinity
of needle

she belongs now to a
medicine society
she’s first order in
a protective web of
they guard
strung by the
belief that
teeze rush
is street zen
ritalin is the
mama-cocoa helper
and heroin is the
power line
prayer line
to reach the place
of the spirits.

Her protection
her therapy
it’s a cloak covering her
so the johns can’t touch
the bliss that vibrates
over her skin
the film, the shield of
surface tension
envelopes her
saves her from trick-contamination
it’s safe sex for those
in emotional recovery

she’s not fearful anymore
to reach out to her


Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew - White Shame

AP: Ahasiw’s 1992 performance “White Shame” was a watershed moment for Ahasiw, myself, and likely anyone present. It defined an artistic, spiritual, moral, political and artistic aesthetic, and created a reference point against which I have measured and defined all performances since. In echoing the Sundance with his repeated action of sewing eagle feathers to his chest, but in a secular setting, and one that was serving alcohol, Ahasiw forced everyone who was present to examine their own commitment to their belief structures, whether those structures were formed around artistic pursuits, codified in religion, or grounded in what is referred to as “traditional” First Nations spiritual practice.
I was profoundly moved, and shaken, by what I saw that night, but because I was working as the performance technician I was one step removed from what took place. It was several days later when it really hit me. I was putting away equipment at the gallery when I suddenly began to weep uncontrollably. Everything had changed. I could never go back to doing theatre: I had to make work that packed that kind of kinetic, emotional charge, or I wasn’t interested in making performance work at all.