Monster – a poem by Dennis Saddleman

Listen to a very powerful poem written by Dennis Saddleman about his experience of Residential Schools:

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/apr-3-2014-1.2908353/monster-by-poet-dennis-saddleman-i-hate-you-residential-school-i-hate-you-1.2908356

Read the complete poem below:

MONSTER, A RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

By Dennis Saddleman

I HATE YOU RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL

I HATE YOU

YOU’RE A MONSTER

A HUGE HUNGRY MONSTER

BUILT WITH STEEL BONES           5

BUILT WITH CEMENT FLESH

YOU’RE A MONSTER

BUILT TO DEVOUR

INNOCENT NATIVE CHILDREN

YOU’RE A COLD-HEARTED MONSTER       10

COLD AS THE CEMENT FLOORS

YOU HAVE NO LOVE

NO GENTLE ATMOSPHERE

YOUR UGLY FACE GROOVED WITH RED BRICKS

YOUR MONSTER EYES GLARE           15

FROM GRIMY WINDOWS

MONSTER EYES SO EVIL

MONSTER EYES WATCHING

TERRIFIED CHILDREN

COWER WITH SHAME           20

I HATE YOU RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL I HATE YOU

YOU’RE A SLIMY MONSTER

OOZING IN THE SHADOWS OF MY PAST

GO AWAY LEAVE ME ALONE

YOU’RE FOLLOWING ME FOLLOWING ME WHEREVER I GO     25

YOU’RE IN MY DREAMS IN MY MEMORIES

GO AWAY MONSTER GO AWAY

I HATE YOU YOU’RE FOLLOWING ME

I HATE YOU RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL I HATE YOU

YOU’RE A MONSTER WITH HUGE WATERY MOUTH     30

MOUTH OF DOUBLE DOORS

YOUR WIDE MOUTH TOOK ME

YOUR YELLOW STAINED TEETH CHEWED

THE INDIAN OUT OF ME

YOUR TEETH CRUNCHED MY LANGUAGE       35

GRINDED MY RITUALS AND MY TRADITIONS

YOUR TASTE BUDS BECAME BITTER

WHEN YOU TASTED MY RED SKIN

YOU SWALLOWED ME WITH DISGUST

YOUR FACE WRINKLED WHEN YOU         40

TASTED MY STRONG PRIDE                                               2

I HATE YOU RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL I HATE YOU

YOU’RE A MONSTER

YOUR THROAT MUSCLES FORCED ME

DOWN TO YOUR STOMACH       45

YOUR THROAT MUSCLES SQUEEZED MY HAPPINESS

SQUEEZED MY DREAMS

SQUEEZED MY NATIVE VOICE

YOUR THROAT BECAME CLOGGED WITH MY SACRED SPIRIT

YOU COUGHED AND YOU CHOKED       50

FOR YOU CANNOT WITH STAND MY

SPIRITUAL SONGS AND DANCES

I HATE YOU RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL I HATE YOU

YOU’RE A MONSTER

YOUR STOMACH UPSET EVERY TIME I WET MY BED     55

YOUR STOMACH RUMBLED WITH ANGER

EVERY TIME I FELL ASLEEP IN CHURCH

Your stomach growled at me every time I broke the school rules

Your stomach was full You burped

You felt satisfied You rubbed your belly and you didn’t care       60

You didn’t care how you ate up my native Culture

You didn’t care if you were messy

if you were piggy

You didn’t care as long as you ate up my Indianness

I hate you Residential School I hate you           65

You’re a monster

Your veins clotted with cruelty and torture

Your blood poisoned with loneliness and despair

Your heart was cold it pumped fear into me

I hate you Residential School I hate you           70

You’re a monster

Your intestines turned me into foul entrails

Your anal squeezed me

squeezed my confidence

squeezed my self respect           75

Your anal squeezed

then you dumped me

Dumped me without parental skills

without life skills

Dumped me without any form of character       80

without individual talents

without a hope for success

I hate you Residential School I hate you                              3

You’re a monster

You dumped me in the toilet then       85

You flushed out my good nature

my personalities

I hate you Residential School I hate you

You’re a monster………I hate hate hate you

Thirty three years later         90

I rode my chevy pony to Kamloops

From the highway I saw the monster

My Gawd! The monster is still alive

I hesitated I wanted to drive on

but something told me to stop     95

I parked in front of the Residential School

in front of the monster

The monster saw me and it stared at me

The monster saw me and I stared back

We both never said anything for a long time       100

Finally with a lump in my throat

I said, “Monster I forgive you.”

The monster broke into tears

The monster cried and cried

His huge shoulders shook          105

He motioned for me to come forward

He asked me to sit on his lappy stairs

The monster spoke

You know I didn’t like my Government Father

I didn’t like my Catholic Church Mother           110

I’m glad the Native People adopted me

They took me as one of their own

They fixed me up Repaired my mouth of double doors

Washed my window eyes with cedar and fir boughs

They cleansed me with sage and sweetgrass         115

Now my good spirit lives

The Native People let me stay on their land

They could of burnt me you know instead they let me live

so People can come here to school restore or learn about their culture

The monster said, “I’m glad the Native People gave me another chance     120

I’m glad Dennis you gave me another chance

The monster smiled

I stood up I told the monster I must go

Ahead of me is my life. My people are waiting for me                   4

I was at the door of my chevy pony         125

The monster spoke, “Hey you forgot something

I turned around I saw a ghost child running down the cement steps

It ran towards me and it entered my body

I looked over to the monster I was surprised

I wasn’t looking at a monster anymore             130

I was looking at an old school In my heart I thought

This is where I earned my diploma of survival

I was looking at an old Residential School who

became my elder of my memories

I was looking at a tall building with four stories     135

stories of hope

stories of dreams

stories of renewal

and stories of tomorrow           139