Monday, October 4, 2021

My Columbus Day Poem

by Linda Rodriguez

October, in the United States, is the month when we observe Columbus Day, celebrating the rapist, enslaver, torturer, and murderer who accidentally landed in the Caribbean while trying to find India. Apparently, not the brightest bulb on the planet, either. (This day used to be known as Lost Italian Day in my family.) 

In many cities and states, however, enlightened people have chosen to celebrate Indigenous People's Day, in honor of all those who were robbed of lands, killed, and enslaved by Columbus and those European invaders who followed his lead and of their resilience and that of their descendants.

As this holiday comes around again in our ever more divided nation--with many people who now say publicly that they would willingly emulate those people like Columbus who killed and enslaved Native people--here is my Columbus Day poem.

My Columbus Day Poem

Sometimes in the fall of the year,

men hit landfall

accidentally, men

who might as well be

ravening beasts

for they do more ravening

than any natural animals

who would be ashamed

to make welcoming people into slaves,

rape women and girls before killing,

set war dogs on naked unarmed

prisoners just for fun,

for the vicious excitement,

the sense of power.

Power, it’s always all about

power—and gold and sex and land

and power. Slavery

in the name of Catholic Christ

and empire. Land, millions of miles,

because no one else discovered

it, not even the millions living on it.

With a wave of a papal pen,

negate lives of nations,

make them resources like beaver,

buffalo, bear.

Solve inconvenient death

rates by ravaging

a different continent.

Looting Africa means no more

use for rebellious Natives.

Wipe them out.

Clear the continent

from sea to shining

and years later


with sales and parades.

Sometimes in the fall of the year,

I grow so tired

of anger and tears,

the bitter stink of history.


Kait said...

Powerful, Linda.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thank you, Kait. As you might be able to tell, I feel quite strongly about this issue, as do many of my Native relatives and friends.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Very moving. Thank you for publishing it on WWK.

KM Rockwood said...

I'm afraid this is just one example of man's inhumanity to man. History is full of such happenings, although not often on such a grand and public scale.

Very appropriate that representatives of those who have been wronged should speak out and call attention to our outrageous attempts to whitewash and glorify such erroneous and one-sided records.

Sometimes I despair of us ever climbing out of the pit into which we have fallen.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Thanks, Margaret.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Km, you are so right. Fortunately, the mayors of a number of cities have been listening to their Indigenous citizens and are switching this day in their cities to Indigenous Peoples Day. Bit by bit, progress is happening.