The Headdress

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Bring me your war wounds

Collect every party you’ve ever survived as a child

Pool every racist slur hurled at you from privileged mouths

and the times you   stood  tall   in spite of

Pluck  the times a teacher graded you before you even sat down

and you proved them wrong

Bring me the close encounters with power hungry police

The times where liquor was more abundant than hope

and you still chose the latter

Gather the nights you went to bed hungry

Hand over the diploma that you raised to the sky

Pick up the parts of you that you’ve left behind on dirt roads without names

Bring me your motherless, fatherless nights where you only had Creator and ancestral

stars for guidance

Place them all before me

And I will fashion you the finest head dress

Because warriors still exist

In contexts such as this

Helen K

I have been thinking about Headdresses after my brothers girlfriend said she wanted one so that she could do a photo shoot in it or wear it around.  She is a full blooded Indigenous woman and I asked her if she knew what wearing a headdress meant or how they were earned. To the best of my knowledge a headdress was earned feather by feather for acts of bravery, courage, honour and valour. A headdress was made once enough of these moments were gathered.

I imagine these moments today, in the lives of people I know and youth I have worked with, and I see these moments fought in every day scenarios.

Reclaim the warrior.


  1. Aloha e Helen K,
    Mahalo nui for your sharing your insight. I’m deeply moved by the way that your poetry grapples with, and ultimately subverts, the colonial project. You’ve inspired me with your call to “reclaim the warrior,” and as a wahine Hawai’i, I thank you. I have recently started my blog, Hawk + Hāloa, which focuses on indigenous resurgence and decolonization, as a way to connect with Indigenous peoples engaged in similar issues, and I’m excited to have found your blog. Looking forward to reading more of your poetry and critical works.

    1. Jahonnache, Wuujo Asonalah with your words. I am excited to read your blog and witness your journey as you move forward!! Love these connections with Indigenous people across the globe.

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