Mary Pinkoski

Mary Pinkoski

She was captain of 2011 Edmonton Poetry Slam Team which won the National Championship
at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Mary was also voted Most Valuable Poet of the 2011
Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. She was a finalist in the 2011 Edmonton Poetry Laureate
competition, as well as a finalist at the 2011 Canadian Individual Slam Championship. Mary was
the winner of the 2008 National CBC Poetry Faceoff. A storyteller at heart, her writing has been
called dynamic and visceral. Mary has presented her unique style of spoken word throughout
Alberta, British Columbia, and Washington. In addition to her live performances, Mary's work
has been played on CBC Radio One's Radio Active and the Key of A, CKUA's The Road Home,
as well as Philadelphia's Spotlight on Jazz and Poetry. Mary has also led numerous workshops
on spoken word poetry, including work with youth. Mary's most current chapbook is love is a
tree you planted.

There was once a time
when I was more than just moonshine
rushing down the throat of another politician

A time when they called me Mother

and I flourished

laden with fruits of my labour
my body stretched out beautifully
and they touched me tenderly
held me in reverence
knew that taking meant as much as giving

I loved them
let their drum beats match the beat of my own core
I held their songs in my waters
watched their voices sway my forests
I nourished them, cradled them in my soul

And they called me Mother

Then you came

Planting your feet and your flags
In the name of religion and Empire
Running your double-edged tongues along my shores
I embraced you because you called me Daughter

because I did not speak your language
I opened my mouth to let you glide into my heart
I stretched my arms out in wooden welcome mats
and felt your shoes rub splinters into me
I carried your dreams with my eyelashes
until the weight of your hopes caused me to blink

You waded through my oceans teaming with fish
travelled my veins to taste my lifeblood
tattooed an agricultural patchwork onto my back
chopped into the forests of my lungs
drilled into the bedrock of my bones
chiseled down my spine
and when I thought you were running out of steam

you wrapped me up in railway ties
like a gift fit for a King

I was not meant to be broken in half
Still I offered myself to you

You, once timid dreamers,
bold adventure seekers,
stargazers and mapmakers

You became butcher,
nation maker

And under your tutelage,
the weakest have been sent to shovel into my soul

I do not blame them,
their palms pleading through dirt have
held me in my most vulnerable places
felt me shutter with worry

I sent you warning after warning
like barely breathing canaries escaping from dark caves
until I had no choice but to return these men to you lifeless
coughing up their still hearts like bottles  

I gave you sea to shining sea
I gave you maple leafs
I gave you a native land
and you called me the true north, strong and free

yet you have long gouged out my eyes
torn my limbs from me
run my veins into your roads
stripped my body bare and ripped it apart for your pleasure

In your pillaging and in your greed,
my mouth has filled with ashes
so I can only ask you in a voice choked with death
Will you continue to call me daughter
until I lay barren like the rest of your offspring

Birds © 2012 Calgary Spoken Word Society